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William John Heard, Jr.

March 11, 1933 July 16, 2020
William John  Heard, Jr.
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Obituary for William John Heard, Jr.

William John Heard, Jr., age 87, of Harborcreek Twp. and formerly Merion and Drexel Hill, PA, passed away at his residence on Thursday, July 16, 2020. He was born in Abington, PA on March 11, 1933, son of the late William J., Sr. and Emeline (Nickles) Heard.
Bill was a 1951 graduate of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA and attended Electrical Engineering School at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1953 he entered Temple University and acquired the FCC commercial-broadcasting license while working at the University radio station. During college years, he worked as Surveying Technician for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and as Field Systems Inspector for Bell Telephone. He then interned at former WCAU-TV in Philadelphia as Technical Analyzer for early color-television broadcasts. He graduated from Temple In 1955 with a degree in Electronics Technology and acquired an FCC radar-engineering license endorsement. Bill then served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Cadmus in electronics and cryptography, and briefly in the office of the Bureau of Ships. He was an internationally certified Engineering Technician.
Beginning in 1958, he worked as Test Specialist at the former General Electric Space Vehicle Division in Valley Forge, PA; involving the instrumentation and operation of laboratory facilities which simulated the atmospheric re-entry of space vehicles. Following transfer in 1968 to GE Transportation Systems in Erie, he worked in Locomotive and Off-Highway Product Service with field assignments as Factory Service Engineer. In 1980, he was assigned to Customer Education as Senior Instructor in the GE Learning Center. Bill visited railroads and open-pit surface mines throughout North America, the African Continent, the Middle East, China, Australia and conducted technical schools for railroad customers for over twenty years. He retired from GE in 1993 after thirty-five years employment and served as Consulting Instructor until 2005.
Earlier in Bill’s life, he studied classical piano for 12 years with Eastman School recitalist, Dorothy Recknagel, and performed in high school student assemblies. He also studied bass viol with Philadelphia Orchestra principal bassist, Roger M. Scott and entered PA district and state student orchestras attaining advanced chairs. While attending Penn he studied harpsichord briefly. In the 1950’s Bill was a member of the Main Line Community Orchestra in Wayne, PA. He later served on the board of the Erie chapter of the American Guild of Organists and substituted as guest organist at small local churches. On special occasions between 1958 and 1970, he presented several private piano recitals in Philadelphia, Allentown and Erie.
Bill was originally a member of Narberth Presbyterian Church from 1945 until his transfer to Erie in 1968. A music hiatus ended in 1980 as a member and interim organist of Eastminster Presbyterian Church. In 1997 he transferred to First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, serving on the Board of Trustees and contributing expertise to major technical projects including upgrades to the Vicary Memorial 103-rank pipe organ and the installation of the McBrier Chapel pipe organ. He is credited with the planning and installation of the Benjamin Musso Memorial Carillon on which he performed and recorded for several years. He served as technical adviser on the 75th anniversary Building Renovation Committee.
Bill was a member of the former Institute of Radio Engineers; a life senior member of the International Society of Automation; member of the former Erie Maennerchor Club, the Erie Yacht Club and the American Theater Organ Society. He was also a member of the Antique Wireless Association, which supports the restoration and preservation of historic electronic equipment and had restored many antique radios and phonographs from his personal collection. He was a participant with the racing crews of the Georgetown-Maryland Sailing Fleet. Bill held life membership in American Mensa.
In 2003 he was preceded in death by his wife of 27 years, Rosemarie Kesselhon Heard; his sister, Judith Anne Helmuth in 2001 and his mother-in-law, Sylvia Szymanowski Kesselhon in 2009. Survivors include his son, William Lawrence Heard; three cousins: Holly N. Ciccoricco (Edward), Deborah N. Strayer and Theodore H. Nickles (Margory).
Family and friends are invited to attend a Graveside Service on Tuesday, July 21st at Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery (Section 10) at 1:00 p.m. to be conducted by the Rev. Chris Weichman, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. All CDC guidelines that pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic will be observed; including the use of face masks and social distancing.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, 250 W. Seventh St., Erie, PA 16501.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the Dusckas-Taylor Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., Harborcreek.

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Previous Events





1:00 PM 7/21/2020 1:00:00 PM
Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery

2601 Norcross Road
Erie, PA 16510

The Graveside Service will be conducted by the Reverend Chris Weichman, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant.

Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery
2601 Norcross Road Erie 16510 PA
United States

Cemetery Details


Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery Final Resting Place

2601 Norcross Road
Erie, PA 16510

2601 Norcross Road Erie 16510 PA
United States

Memorial Contribution

First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant

250 West 7th Street
Erie, PA 16501

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