Our Family Heritage: Founders of Hellertown, Pen Argyl, Saylorsburg, Appenzell, perhaps Wind Gap too and more. 



                            Johan Christopher Heller’s farm house, circa 1760.


In 2004 I toured east central Pennsylvania, a land area stretching from northern Philadelphia suburbs to East Stroudsburg in the Poconos.  I spent a day in the Hellertown Library, Saylorsburg cemetery, and Penn Argyll downtown district researching our family line and discovered a transformative origin - Johan Christopher Heller and four of his six sons settling the land in 1740 after the Leni Lenape Indians were pushed out by the colonial Pennsylvania government located in Quaker Philadelphia.

Pen Argyl in 1894


      We had a problem - we could not prove our connection to Christopher Heller and his six sons beyond grandfather Albert E. Heller’s birth in 1891 in Appenzell, PA.  With the assistance of www.MyHeritage.com, we traced our heritage to Johan Christopher Heller leaving Pheddersheim, Germany in 1738 and finally to Conrad Heller, Brandenburg, Germany born in the late 1400’s. 



The above map showing Pen Argyl in center and Appenzell to the northeast does not include either Hellertown and Saylorsburg located southeast of the area.  Lee Widener, author of Hellertown, “Images of America”, Arcadia, 2003, describes his small city.


“Nestled in the Saucon Valley, Hellertown lies just south of Bethlehem, bordered on the Saucon Creek.  While the creek derives its name from the Native America sakunk meaning ‘place where a small stream enters a large stream,” the town inherited its name from Christopher Heller and his sons, especially Michael who started the first farm and grist mill.  The 1800’s brought a wave of Deutsch (German) immigrants to this corner of the Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) country.”




The Genealogy of Christopher Heller and his six sons, a paper read by William Jacob

Heller at the Fifth Reunion of the Heller Family Association at Island Park, Easton, PA, August 29, 1908, Library of Congress, describes a history of Christopher and four of the six sons; Dieter, Simon, Michael and Daniel.



Michael Heller’s Grist Mill


LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Heller and Pennsylvania Ave., main intersection, Penn Argyll, PA


Founder Joseph Saylor’s wife was a Heller (Elizabeth? Louise?) 


Saylorsburg’s main commercial corridor, circa 2005


The names of these two wives are unknown and their identities will probably never be discovered.  He lies buried at the Lime Kiln School house, the ancient burying ground near Hellertown.  I have purposely left the typos and grammatical mistakes intact out of respect for their time. 


Daniel, the Fourth Son


May be wife of Milton Heller, grandfather Albert Heller’s older brother.  Burial site is in Saylorsburg, PA. 


In a History of Bucks County, PA Volume 3, William H. Davis writes:




Heller family genealogy chart Johan Simon Heller through Hoyt Bernard Heller, pictured age 10.


William Davis text continues:



Appenzell, located near Jackson Township, Monroe County, is where our grandfather Albert grew up; also, where our father Bernie spent occasional extended periods of time when his mother Freda joined Albert on the road when he managed a traveling carnival.  In the near future we hope to visit Appenzell, a place we’ve never known and are a little lesser for it. 



Our connection to the Heller family history in Pennsylvania is through our beloved grandmother Freda Belford Heller who married Albert in 1910. 


From Hoyt Bernard “Bernie” Heller, 1914 - 1955, to Conrad Heller, Brandenburg, Germany, estimated birth 1434 – 1494.


My sister Bobbie and I grew up with very limited knowledge of our Heller family line mostly located in east – central Pennsylvania.  This was by design of our well-meaning mother Jeanne Bernstein Heller Polinsky who worried that we might feel comfortable to marry outside of our Jewish faith if we knew Albert E. Heller, our grandfather, had been born a Christian, in his case, a Lutheran. 

Picture of Barbara “Bobbie” Polinsky, age 18, and brother Arnold Heller, age 13, Newark, NJ.

Albert Heller converted to Judaism at age twenty-four to marry our grandmother, Frieda Belford, who immigrated from Minsk, Belarus at age five in 1898.  In 1891, Albert, born in Appenzell, Pennsylvania, just outside of East Stroudsburg, migrated to Newark in search of work.  He met Frieda, fell in love with her, and married in 1913.  They had two boys, Hoyt Bernard, born in 1914, and Ralph, born two years later. 


Our mother, born Jeannette December 12, 1913, married our father Bernie in June of 1935 – they honeymooned in Spring Lake.  This photo was taken at grandparents Samuel and Sadie Bernstein’s Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary in 1954 – they were thirty-nine.  Samuel, born in 1875, immigrated from Austria in 1895 and brought his wife Sadie and two children over three years later. 



Our family does not possess a photo of grandfather Albert, nor have we ever seen one of the man who died in 1929 at age thirty-eight.  Albert managed a traveling carnival, grew lonely during time away from home so Frieda often joined him on the road. 


Bernie and Ralph were frequently placed with relatives – the 1920 census lists Bernie as a boarder with his grandparents Ferdinand and Mary Heller in Appenzell – he was six years old at the time.  He is about ten years old in the following picture, the only one we have of him as a child. 


Bernie Heller, (above photo), about age ten.  List of eight generations (above columns) of Hellers in USA starting with Johan Simon Heller’s arrival in 1738 with his father Johan Christopher Simon and four brothers.  Isaac Heller, born in 1752 in colonial Pennsylvania, is our family line’s first child born in America. 


I was astonished while researching this history of our lineage from the lack of documentation of our mother and father’s life experiences in this country. I found very few birth, marriage or general census records for two urban people who lived in the Twentieth Century. 


I’ve learned that sourcing public information records provides limited information – searching existing family trees proved far more productive in discovering matches.  For example, our father’s life is recorded in a death certificate (March 29, 1955, Irvington, NJ), an erroneous reference in the 1910 census that he was born four years before actual birth day, a reference to him in the 1940 census as a brother-in-law of my mother’s grandparents living at 367 Peshine Avenue in Newark. 


In the Bernstein household of 1940, occupants listed include Samuel Bernstein, age 63, Sadie Bernstein, age 60, Morris Bernstein, age 26, son-in-law Hoyt Heller, age 26, daughter Jeanne Heller, age 26.  Morris, two years older than his sister Jeanne is probably 28 at the time; also, Bernie and Jeanne lived a block away and not with her parents. 


Our mother’s recorded life is far surprisingly scarcer than our father for she lived almost twice as long.  In contrast, the public records of Bobbie and I, though limited, are almost voluminous compared to our parents.    



Source: MyHeritage.com: Examine above document.  Notice our grandmother’s name is misspelled; Belfar instead of Belford – it is also misspelled as such for Albert Heller’s burial form in 1929. Was Belfar shortened from a longer name at Ellis Island, perhaps Belfarsky and changed to Belford?  Or coincidentally twice misspelled? 


Frieda Belford Heller, our grandmother, 1893 – 1991 or 1892 - 1987.


Note too that Arnold Heller, born in 1946, is listed but not Bobbie Heller who was born in 1940.  Furthermore, I typed in Jeanne Bernstein’s birth and death dates – they had not been previously recorded. The following 1920 census document shows Bernie Heller living with his grandparents in Appenzell.


Photo circa 1944 of Bernie Heller (R), brother Ralph Heller (L) two years younger, and Bobbie Heller, age 4. 

In the US Census of 1910, Albert Heller is listed as living in Jackson, Monroe, Pennsylvania and 19 years old.  His father Ferdinand, mother Mary and five siblings are also listed. 

Albert Heller’s death certificate. 

Right of main driveway, 5th section from South Orange Avenue. 


The above photo is of either Mary Heller, 1862 – 1957, wife of Albert, Bernie’s grandmother, or it is of Frieda Belford Heller’s mother, name unknown despite aggressive searches.  The austere clothing and facial expression suggests Mary Heller; Grammys’ mom is written on back of the photo. Grammy is the name Bobbie and I called our grandmother growing up so you be the judge. 


Source: Family Search Family Trees – My Heritage: Ferdinand Heller.



Source: Billion Graves. 








James B. Heller




Jacob Heller, Pennsylvania / US Census, 1870

Jacob Heller’s wife is Mary Heller, born Brewer, 1809 - 1885.  The match is with their son James B. Heller and his son Ferdinand Heller.  Jacob, later in life, migrated to Sulphur Springs, Crawford Co., Ohio and was buried there.


John Heller, 1778 – 1847


Spouses – Susannah Bordner, Catherina Bitterman, Anna Marie Paul; father of Isaac. 


Susannah Bordner is the spouse of John Heller. 



Isaac Heller, 1752, son and eighteenth child of Johan “John” Simon Heller, the son of Johan Christopher Heller, is the first Heller child of our family line born in America.  Isaac’s birth date’s listing ranges from 1742 to 1752.  I believe the latter date for John Simon moved into Northampton / Monroe / Jackson in 1742.  Hellertown was established in 1750; Penn Argyll in 1765. 



Isaac Heller’s birth date listed of 1751 shows Pheddersheim, Germany as the family’s origin.  From MyHeritage.com; web site of Byrum Tudor; time line of Isaac Heller’s life beginning in 1751.

Johan “John” Simon Heller is the immigrant ancestor that established the family in the “new world”. He married five women that birthed him twenty-six children. 


Source: Genie World Tree

At age twenty-five, I learned of grandfather Albert’s conversion; at age fifty-eight I made a pilgrimage to Hellertown to research our origins in the public library and learned of Christopher Heller and his five sons that established the town and surrounding locations.  For thirteen years I sensed this was our family’s roots in America but could not prove it until this genealogical search. 


Johan Christopher Heller, and his son Johan Simon, are the DNA that chartered our family heritage in America; indeed, the Heller family settled much of east-central Pennsylvania, literally from the northern stretches beyond Philadelphia to the Pocono Mountains in the far northeastern corner; also the lands west of Philadelphia that became the Amish country. Christopher and Simon are literally two of the many “fathers of our country”.


Marriage: Anna Loysa “Lowii” Heller (born Dietz), Saucon Twnshp, Northhampton, PA, 1726 -1768

Marriage: Anna Margharetha Heller (born Anthony), 1745 - 1769

Marriage: Christina Heller (born Bossard), 1769 – 1822

Marriage: Barbara Heller (born Knect), 1762, born 1723 - ?

Marriage: Mest Heller (born Dieter Heller)


Given the prodigious number of children born, the medical conditions of time, number of twin births, it is assumed that some wives and a number of children died in child birth or soon afterwards.


Wife Rebecca Heller, 1805 - ?


Anna Louisa “Lowii” Heller

It appears that Johan Simon Heller began having children with a younger woman, Rebecca Heller.  Born in 1726, Lowii died at Wind Gap, Northampton, Pennsylvania married to Johannes George Heller.  Isaac Heller is apparently Johan Simon’s eighteenth child – glad that he did not stop at seventeen.

Johan Christopher Heller, 1688 – 1778

Christening: March 24, 1706, Reformed Church (Evangelical Lutheran), Pfeddersheim, Germany, Rhineland – Palatinate.


Marriage: Veronica Heller (born Lavall), Feb. 18, 1716; Budesheim, Bitburg-Prum, Rhineland-Platz, Germany


Arrival: 1738, Philadelphia, PA


Marriage: Tohickon, Bucks Co., PA, 1844


Residence: 1750 – Hamilton, Northampton, PA, founded Hellertown in Lower Saucon Valley and lived there until his death in 1778 at age 90 and where he is buried.



Michael Heller for unknown reasons is not included.  Michael was influential in developing the first trading post and farm in Lower Saucon Valley and Hellertown. 


The next phase of this genealogy is to trace the family line back through Europe starting with Johan Christopher Heller’s parents.  Although the family appears to have immigrated from Pheddersheim in the 17th Century, family members in the 16th Century appear to be moving from the German speaking part of Switzerland, particularly Zurich and environs to the present German state of Hesse. 


The search will conclude with Conrad Heller, estimated birth 1434 – 1494, residing in Brandenburg, Germany just outside of modern day Berlin.  Brandenburg is a kind of colonial Williamsburg showcasing Frederick the Great and other leading Prussian monarchs.  One wonders what measures of civil instability, war, religious intolerance, or other disaster caused the migrations. 


It is believed that the search for religious tolerance and cheap farmland drew hundreds of thousands of Germans – including our family – across the ocean to Pennsylvania, a green land with rolling hills and climate similar to Germany.  They came, sacrificed, prospered, and we benefit to this very day. 


Hans Jacob Heller, 1662 - 1727 

Hans was born in Pheddersheim, Rhein, Hessen, Germany and married Anna Sara Heller (born Stricker) in 1687.  She died in 1689 in Pheddersheim.  Source for below diagram: Davenport web site; Howard Brimmer, manager. 

Anna Gotteiba Heller (born Sclintwein) 1644 – 1682

Anna was born, lived, and died in Pheddersheim, Pfalz, Hessen, Germany. 


Source: My Heritage Family Trees


Conrad Heller, 1615 – 1640

Residence: Weyl Bei Rafz, Zurich, Switzerland. 

Marriage: Maria Magdalena Heller (born Angst) circa 1635



It appears that the family during the life of Conrad Heller migrated from the Zurich area to the Worms – Pheddersheim area in Germany.  Neither Switzerland nor Germany existed as countries yet; monarchies, principalities, small entitled states were the rule. The nation-state concept had formed in Spain, England, France, Netherlands, but not in the German language regions. 


Source: www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/KFD2-8C5


Conrad is also listed as residing in the Wil, Zurich area.  Conrad Heller’s parents appear to be Marx Heller, 1597 – 1671, and Veronica Neukom, 1601 – 1667 with no marriage event happening. 


Bernard Heller, 1619 - ?

Residence: Wil Bei Rafz, Zurich, Switzerland



Fridli Heller, 1580 – 1665

One wonders if Fridli Heller – instead of Marx Heller – is Conrad Heller’s father. 

Hans Heller, 1563 – 1615


Conrad apparently is listed here as Lorenz Robert Heller’s son.  Source: Geni World Tree


Lorenz Robert Heller, 1549 – 1600

Residence: Grobgartach, Heilbronn, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany.



Conrad Oder Lorenz Hiller

Source: David Rumsey, Manager, last updated November 5, 2017

Birth date: Between 1499 and 1500


Birthplace: Brandenburg, Germany


Death: After 1540


Immediate family: Father of Lorenz Heller

Conrad Heller

Birth date: Estimated between 1434 and 1494

Immediate family: Conrad Oder Lorenz Heller, birth – 1499 / 1500

A forthcoming DNA Ancestry Test may shed more light on our journey into our past heritage. 

Photo of sister Barbara “Bobbie” Heller Polinsky and husband Arnold Polinsky. 

Photo of Arnold Heller with late wife Sue Auerbach Heller (1950 – 2009) and son Sasha Bart Heller taken at 50th birthday party, February 26, 1996.

Sue proudly and lovingly displayed photos that were special to her in attractive frames, or on prominent walls. Four years ago, when I moved into my apartment, all of her favored pictures were gathered in to a visibly prime display space in my living room. With the creation of these online photo albums, the space can be re-purposed for what it was designed for – placement of a laptop to stream shows into the adjacent home entertainment center.

Samuel and Sadie Bernstein celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary

The Bernstein family gathering for celebrating Samuel and Sadie Roth Bernstein’s 50th wedding anniversary is my most treasured photo – my mother’s whole family is gathered. My grandfather, born Shimon Berghenstein in 1870, left Austria in 1895 and arrived at Ellis Island at age 25 where he was renamed by the Irish immigration official who could not say his name - Samuel Bernstein. Voila.

Samuel married Sadie Roth, left her in Austria with Rose, Joe, and Fanny to go to America and get a job as a furrier. Remarkably, he brought the family over two years later. Morris, and Jeanne were born in the US, my mother is the baby.

L – R: Rose and Morris Bernstein, Betty Goldstein with father Irving, Joe and Minnie Bernstein, Fanny and Harry Becker, and Jeanne and Bernie Heller. Rose Bernstein was Italian and Catholic; she and Morris divorced five years later. Rose Goldstein was ill that night – her daughter Betty subbed for her. Irving Goldstein is of Romanian origin.

Betty Goldstein, now about 83, is the only person in the picture still living. She married Mel Mintz who played a major role in the computerization of the textile industry – Mel passed a few years ago.

Joe Bernstein became a successful insurance broker and the family patriarch; Minnie was the first college educated woman in the family and successfully battled breast cancer for the last thirty years of her life. Fanny, the middle child, married Harry Becker, a man of German origin, who was a plumber and luncheonette owner. Morris Bernstein, an easy-going man who ran marginal cleaning stores, moved to Florida after divorcing Rose and lived with Elsie Melniker for the rest of his life.

Freda Heller, my Dad’s mom, immigrated from Belarus at age five (1900). She married Albert Heller who died at age forty in 1927. Jeanne and Bernie, my mother and father married in 1935 at age twenty-one. My sister Bobbie was born in 1941, me in 1946 - proud baby-boomer that I am.

I am ten months old in this picture and did not walk until I was seventeen months. Sue is a year old in the following picture. It’s my opinion that she looked more like a Campbell’s soup kid than any other American child.

Sue – one year old.

My theory – to be tested by an upcoming DNA ancestry search – is that in 1740 Mennonite Joachim Heller and his five sons left German speaking Switzerland and landed in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania colonial government opened up the northeastern corner for settlement by driving the Leni Lenape Indians out.

Joachim and his five sons moved in. They opened up the first trading store, started the first farm, and established Hellertown in the Lehigh / Saucon Valley. Fifteen years later, apparently annoyed by a new elite, the Heller family moved fifteen miles east to found Penn-Argyll.

Albert Heller, around 1911, supposedly moved from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, where he grew up to Newark, NJ for a job. He met Freda Belford, proposed, and was rejected until he converted to Judaism and was also circumcised.

Albert managed a carnival and traveled up and down the coast. He supposedly died of pneumonia in 1927 in a small southern town and was buried in Newark.

The woman in the following picture is the most mysterious photo I’ve ever possessed. She is my great grandmother yet I do not know her first name nor anything about her. My mother developed hard feelings towards this branch and shielded Bobbie and I from them during our formative stages. I presume she is a Christian woman and given the gown, may be associated with a religious order such as the alleged Mennonites.

My Grandfather Albert was supposedly very hard on Bernie and Ralph; when Albert drank, he could become abusive. Albert traveled with the carnival – Freda sometimes joined him on the road and sent the boys to stay with relatives.

The below picture of my father is the only one I ever saw of him as a child. Bernie spoke very little about him – my mother always changed the subject when I brought it up.

Bernie Heller, about ten years old.

My sister Bobbie Heller Polinsky, age 4, flanked by her Uncle Ralph Heller (L) and her father Bernie Heller (R).

Sister Bobbie Heller Polinsky with husband Arnold Polinsky.

Sue loved this picture of my sister and brother-in-law; a copy adorns a wall of mine with other beloved family pictures.

Craig, Carrie, and Brett Polinsky.

Given that the three Polinsky children were born two years apart, Brett is ten here, Craig eight, Carrie six.

Picture of Sasha with cousins Carrie and Craig Polinsky.

My cousin Ivan Heller, in 1985, migrated from New Jersey to Atlanta at age thirty-six. He married Gail Zweigel who had a son Ethan with first husband Hank Zweigel. Jared Heller, about three months old in below picture, is now twenty-six.

L – R: Ivan Heller, Arnold Heller, Sasha Heller, about 12 – 13, Ralph Heller. Ralph passed away five years ago, Ivan three years ago.

Sasha Heller, age nine; Melissa Zandman, age 6; Adam Zandman, age 4.

This picture was taken in 1988 in Great Smokey National Park in Cherokee, NC. They spent so many camping trips together that Sash was almost like a big brother to Melissa and Adam.

Fiftieth birthday party picture.

This happy picture is worth another showing.

Photo of Sasha, age 14, and my mother Jeanne and husband Rubie Polinsky at Sasha’s Bar Mitzvah (1992).

Left picture: Sue and I in Kiowa Island, SC, at Heller – Polinsky – Auerbach family reunion. Right picture: Sue with Nan Haas Feldman around 1987 in Framingham, Mass. Nan and Sue became best friends age twelve.

Excursion from Alaska Sea & Land Cruise

Yes, that is me under all of that protective wear which is needed to handle the flying mud and swirling dust. This was the only time in my life on an all-terrain vehicle which I rode very carefully. We arrived in Denali, found our excursion outfit, and drove down a river bed, over hills and down trails for an hour – loved every second.

Life is a journey and I’m still on my way.

Please go on to Photo Album 10 – Arnold & Sue Heller: More Pictures from our Wedding

My wife Sue radiated on her wedding day like a sun in the sky. I’ve marveled at how a pretty girl in love and dressed in a gorgeous wedding gown truly glows with a special beauty on her marital day. I’ve witnessed it in Sue and others of her generation and again with their daughters.

From the pretty woman to the pretty woman in the mirror; “Who is the fairest of them all?”

The Manor, in 1973, had yet to become a super-sized wedding factory – in our time it was a pretty and popular event facility with lovely grounds and a fine kitchen and staff. Herman and Roz gave their little girl a fabulous wedding and I was welcomed into a warm and loving family. All three have passed and I miss them so much.

I found the perfect partner and am a better man for it. Sue was a passionate woman of substance and charm, a master organizer and time manager - the virtual super-mom. She did it all; career, family, excellent mother, true quality of time instead of quantity. Sue shared the same lust to know and understand the world and how it worked and it drove us to visit three dozen countries.

Sue had hoped for a hippie wedding with 20 – 30 family members and close friends. I am the one who requested a large wedding for having moved to Atlanta, I yearned to bring my family and friends spread across New Jersey, New York, and the US together one more time before Sue and I got dug in living down south.

I’ve never been a fan of tuxedos, more so for an afternoon affair. White dinner jackets with violet colored shirts and black pants fit the bill and all my bros got on board. L – R: Three beautiful ladies; my sister Bobbie with adorable nephew Brett in hand, Nan Hass Feldman, Sue’s maid of honor, and Sue. To my right are best man Rich Fertell and brother-in-law Marc Auerbach.

Amazing coincidence: Marc and Rich had the same nickname – Bink. Rich was called bink because Morris Horowitz called him that one night at age eighteen and it stuck for life. Marc’s origin is that as an infant he was always with his Binky pacifier and that stuck too. Roz was still occasionally calling Marc Bink when she died at age ninety-four; he was sixty-seven.

Uncle Joseph Bernstein accompanied me and my mother Jeanne down the aisle. My mother and I respected Joe’s quiet strength, responsible character, and wisdom. Grandpa Sam Bernstein, a furrier in a coat factory, made a seasonal living. Joe went to work early, put himself through college, became an accountant for an insurance company, then built a successful insurance agency. By the time he was fifty, Joe was the patriarch and whether he sought the position or not, he paid his parents rent. Thank God, he finally sold my father a life insurance policy the year before he was fatally run over by a car.

The insurance companies involved in my Dad’s policy sued each other – Joe went to court in Elizabeth, NJ, with us for two days until a modest settlement was reached. Joe always ate for lunch a peanut butter and cream cheese on whole wheat sandwich with a glass of milk.

His son Alan became a lawyer – Joe’s accident cases were his platform so I was groomed to succeed Joe as broker and he started me at age fourteen working the files or running errands. But I was a born social studies teacher with an interest in possibly becoming a lawyer too and Joe expected me to squelch my interest in both and get an accounting degree to be a broker. In his mind, teaching paid too little and he couldn’t help me with the law. The Vietnam War and the need for a deferment led me to teaching.

Aunt Minnie Bernstein, a kind and smart lady, took a special interest in me. I was in awe of her – she’d had radical mastectomy (when still young) to catch breast cancer in an age when cancer care was ignorant and primitive. She researched and built a life based on excluding chemicals – made her own clothes, baked bread, riced vegetables and lived thirty to forty more chemically free extra years. God bless Aunt Minnie, back then she knew more than the doctors. In the below picture, Joe, quite ill, has his eyes closed – he typically did this for his baby sister. He and Min’s last years were plagued by serious health problems – they were good people who deserved a better end and I miss them.

In the grand-parents picture below (L – R), Sue’s step grandpa Julius Roth, grandma Sadie Scheer Roth, Sue, me, my grandmother Freda Belford Heller. Sadie immigrated from Poland at age seventeen, married Milton Scheer at age nineteen, Rozzie was born a year later. Milton, age twenty-two, opened a grocery store. Italian gangsters extorted him, he didn’t pay, they robbed and killed him. Sadie became a beautician to support Roz until she married Herman who was in the Army at the time. After the war, the very Americanized Sadie would meet and marry Julius, an Austrian immigrant who worked in the garment district and never really assimilated. I liked him – he was European man who perhaps valued my Ph. D. scholarship more than anyone. But Nana did not find Julius the partner she’d hoped for; Sue as a child liking to having breakfast with them, Nana doing her braids, Julius doting on her, was their sun that lit two lives that clicked on few cylinders.

Julius Roth was called up to cut the challah and say the prayer for bread. A scholar, who supposedly spoke a dozen languages, after retiring from the garment district, he became a color-blind tailor who occasionally got into fights with customers because he matched the wrong thread with cloth – they were always wrong according to him – he slowly alienated his family too.

Julius Roth and Murray Panzer of his famous line the guy stinks a mile a minute (pictured smoking) were two outsiders in their own family; Murray, probably because of an untreated emotional problem, Julius because he remained a stranger in a land that remained strange to him.

Curiously, I recall Uncle Murray being very subdued at our wedding – he loved Sue, the one person he never insulted or barked at and interrupted me to dance with his niece.

We met again, of course, in Israel three years later where I discovered his likely problem; untreated manic – depression; he cried thirty seconds after laughing heartily.

A series of four group pictures begins, the first being a circle of New Jersey friends at the time. From L – R standing: Jeff and Leslie Wyman (Schneider?). Leslie and I were pals in high school and college, she the married Jeff, a lawyer, they were living in Teaneck when I lost touch with them. Mike Abelson and wife Ellen – his family once owned twenty-six jewelry stores – he and I shared some great times during a European trip at age twenty-two. Mike Abelson, a sweet guy who made a career in advertising, died tragically young of an illness.

Continuing R – L standing; Jay Garfunkel and Richard Duke Engle. Jay married Ellen, second from left sitting – they live in Oceanport, NJ. We reunited a couple of years ago and I look forward to seeing them again in near future. You have seen the patio furniture they manufacture and distribute on what seems like every outdoor deck and patio and for two good reasons – it’s attractive and well made.

Richie Engle manages concerts given on Grey Line boat tours around Manhattan with his son. The mother, Daphne Engel Gregory, seated far left, divorced Duke and later married Dean Gregory and has a career planning, internships, and educational services company.

Continuing L – R seated is Ellen Garfunkel who help Jay build a model family business, raised three nice children and now tends to her grandkids. Finally, Helen and Neil Markowitz – Neil died tragically young too, perhaps a decade after this picture. Sue and I sadly lost touch with Helen.

The photographer keeps interrupting people’s dining to take pictures, thus the lack of smiles and even some frowns. I was starving and the dude did not let Sue and I eat a morsel of food.

Below L – R seated; Best Man Rich Fertell, Sue, me, Marc and Lisa Auerbach. Standing R – L: Arnold Polinsky holding son Brett, sister Bobbie, Wendy Handelman Nachman and David Nachman with whom we later moved on from and they divorced. Artist Nan Haas Feldman and retired English professor and poet husband Alan Feldman who live in Framingham, Mass. and now travel and create art and literature.

Note Ivan’s slightly frothier Jewfro than Marc’s – sign of the times.

Frankly, I cropped about six people out of the above picture due to my not remembering who they are or being able to say something nice about them. L – R; note my cousin Ivan’s Heller’s Jewfro is higher and more picked out than my brother-in-law Marc’s Jewfro (see picture before, Marc second from right) which for its time was pretty awesome. Blonde Debbie, next to Ivan, was his girl-friend for a few months. Jeff and Leslie, last names long forgotten and maybe first names too, was a Long Island couple we were friends with until Sue got into an argument with Leslie over a teaching philosophy.

Above picture (L – R); Lewis Goetz who has been a prominent Washington, DC architect for over forty-five years and had three marriages. Robb Miller, then a Newark teacher, became a prominent architectural photographer and is now retired and living in LA with interior decorator Caryn Swann. Rita, last name forgotten, was a Long Island girl who moved to Atlanta to teach the same time as us. She taught in Conyers, then deep red country, in a trailer to poor white special education students. Rita announced at our wedding that she was moving back to Long Island.

Sue and I seated Rich Cooper (far right seated) next to Rita – they were single and we hoped they might like each other. Not – Rich, at that moment, was into meditation and celibacy and I believe was not with a woman until he married Jeannie some years later.

Standing left is Joe Cohen who was in the music business for years and I heard from someone that he’d enjoyed success with Jersey City waterside housing renovations. Cousin Carl Reitman was a liquor salesman and the three young ladies to his left are cousins from Sue’s Panzer and Waterman family strains.

Just me and my lovely bride.

It took me ten years to find my professional home - Northside / North Atlanta High School - where I believe I had the best twenty-five year long-run of any classroom teacher - certainly had the most fun.   I bounced around though for a decade between three urban systems until the publication of this yellowed article pinned to my classroom bulletin board for the next twenty-five years. Note the beard that almost makes me look like a lighter-skinned Dick Gregory.


One day after work in 1974, a friend asked me to accompany him to an interview for a place in the upcoming semester for the Georgia State University Social Studies Ph. D. program.  I did and GSU interviewed me too.  They offered me a placement at that moment and I graduated in November 1978.

Earning a Ph. D. changes your identity – overnight one goes from being Mister to Doctor and perceptions of you are altered – more doors open though.  Georgia State at the time was on the verge of becoming a great urban research school.  I used my place as an Atlanta Public School researcher to test hypotheses in international education applications.  GSU provided a supportive platform for me to produce a statistically valid prejudice reduction treatment. 

I received my first teaching award in the Spring of 1978 for excellence in social studies instruction.

Sue taught in Vine City in Atlanta for her first two years, then became a Reading Specialist for the Gwinnett County Schools and later moved on to the Fulton County system where she found her greatest success and happiness. 

I believe her special talents were first noticed at Holcomb Bridge Middle School working for Doris Robertson and where she received a Teacher of the Year Award for boosting reading and math scores. 

Sue moved on to her greatest career success and source of joy, the twenty years spent running the Open Campus School on Mimosa Boulevard in Roswell. 

Sue receiving 1987 Teacher of the Year Award from Fulton County.

Sue’s special educational pleasure was the production of the annual Independence High Multicultural Day.  Her students performed a multicultural presentation using multi-media approaches – the shows were videotaped. 

Slide from PowerPoint presentation used at 2004 festival.

Sue retired from teaching at the end of the 2005 – 2006 school year – her health was declining and she yearned for new pastures like writing a children’s book series.  Her career was illustrated in classroom bulletin boards that after her retirement were stored in guest bedroom closets. 

I grieved and drifted for three years after her death in 2009 - sold the house in 2012 and moved into an apartment.  Naturally, I had to donate or throw out a lot of our treasures and the worst day of all was when I had to carry her bulletin boards to the street for garbage pickup.  The semblance of mind needed to build a web site, scan her bulletin boards one square foot at a time, and place her professional accomplishments online was three years away. 

My main motivation for the photo album series is that I worry that our memory of Sue is gradually dimming over time due to an online presence that’s far less than the real- life world she impacted.  My hope is that through this online album series, the full scope and scale of Sue’s light, love and wisdom can remain a part of us for as long as there is an internet. 

It’s been said that receiving awards and rewards may beget more awards and rewards.  In my case, receiving the Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education sponsored by the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, PA, started a ten-year long cavalcade of grants, prizes, and in-kind donations probably unmatched in the country.

1995 Leavey Award Winners at Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.

I was very proud to be a part of this distinguished group of economics and business education educators and administrators.  The $7,500 cash prize was invested in the International Business Program and student run Atlanta Caribbean Trading Company, ACTCo, and energized the program and business. 

For more information on the International Business Program and ACTCo, please access www.arnoldheller.org/international-business-education/model-international-business-program.html. 

In 1981 at Northside High, Mr. Brian Stone, father of Brian Stone, Jr., a student in my history class, offered me his support to help build the school’s Close Up Program.  Close Up brings thousands of American high school students to Washington, DC, each year for a week to learn how their government works from close up.  Our Northside February delegation was the third largest in the country that year and remained that way for the rest of the decade.  I essentially enjoyed an annual vacation in Washington hanging for an interesting week with teachers from all over the country.

I am particularly proud of this group picture with Fifth District Congressman John Lewis, a genuinely nice man that I’ve gotten to know a bit over the years.

My first exposure to Soviet communism and East Germany was in 1970.  I drove through Checkpoint Charlie and viewed a world without cars and or people walking in the streets. 

I stopped in their historic bar and drank bad beer and ate ersatz food.  I would return in 1990 after the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and discover that the beer and food were much better. 

In 2002, I led a student exchange to Frankfurt and Berlin and visited the same bar for the third time in thirty-four years.  The bar had been spruced up, the beer was excellent, and the food was gastropub quality.  I realized how the world kept changing around this bar and it kept going, a true essence of Berliners. 

I was a happy teacher, loved my work and students, and thought I’d teach for forty years.  But after thirty years, the late Dr. Beverly Hall moved from Newark, NJ, to run the Atlanta system and turned it into a scandalous racketeering netherworld.  I saw my best teaching gig in the world at risk, retired at the pinnacle, and got out just in time to watch the APS become a test cheating machine. 

The Atlanta Public Schools, whose motto during my career with the system, was if it’s good for the kids, do it.  I am proof of that slogan because APS provided me the freedom and resources to make it all happen.  That philosophy gave away to a decade-long systemic mania over test scores that is finally turning back towards empowering good teachers and emphasizing critical thinking skills again.     

Retirement presents an array of decisions; first, which of the four pension plans should one select.  Plan A is the highest monthly amount but with no beneficiary.  Plans B and C and D present three graduated levels of survivor benefits with corresponding decreases in net pay.  Hoping to live forever, we both chose Plan A.  I lived, Sue didn’t and I lost her pension upon her death. 

Upon receiving Georgia Teacher Retirement Pension benefits, one may not teach more than half time for 49% of last salary.  New insurance, medical, and dental coverages are needed.  If also receiving Social Security, one may only get 50% - it’s called the Windfall Pension Benefits Act. Love that term. 

Librarian Sheila Howard, the inventor of ACTCo’s best-selling Kente’ Rose, was masterful in organizing memorable retirement parties.

Sue retired the year after me – we were fifty-nine and fifty-five - almost as young as retiring French government officials. Sue had beaten breast cancer the last two years of work and was healthy.  In my opinion, we were very nicely poised to realize the Golden Years Dream.

Sue and I are pictured with Wayne and Vicki Scheer – the four of us are at a Fulton County retirement party for Sue and Vicki and other retiring teachers.  Wayne, an English professor at Metropolitan College (owned by Atlanta Public Schools), and I retired in June 2003.  Our wives retired in June 2004 and Sue developed lung cancer the next year.  

Vicki, a past member of reconstructionist Bet Haverim in Atlanta, introduced Sue to Rabbi Josh Lesser and the Congregation. She found a solace needed to fight the cancer in the lovely songs and music that is at the heart of the synagogue’s service. 

Sue and I moved to Atlanta Feb. 22, 1972.  A little over two years later, we were in Atlanta’s Fulton County Braves Stadium watching Hank Aaron thwack #715 into the left field seats.  Pearl Bailey sang a bluesy anthem that night, best version I ever heard.

Sasha and I attended the Georgia Dome opening – stadium lasted twenty-five years.

I watched the opening of the colossal Mercedes Benz dome on TV – is it for the ages?  Turner Field lasted nineteen years and is now Georgia State Univ. Football Stadium.

Atlanta hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1988 so I volunteered to be a driver for officials.  I was fortunately assigned to drive DNC Chief Bryan Moynihan, a nice guy, all over the city and got an insider’s view of DNC convention politics. 

That 1988 badge was my security ID – compare it to today’s digitalized security systems.  

I’ve attended the Twentieth, Thirtieth, Fortieth and Fiftieth Weequahic High Class of 1964 reunions.  The photo is of the Bragaw Avenue School group taken at the Fortieth. 

The Class of 1964 50th Reunion was videotaped and is accessed on YouTube.


Or www.youtube.com/watch?V=fED7bQfXOs4.

Thus, in a blink of an eye, did a career and a life pass into the realm.  I am seated between the late Marilyn Molk Kantrowitz (left) and Marilyn Frank Jacks (right).  Because I can only remember the names of about 75%, I will not provide names – don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  Phyllis Lerman Zia, middle of bottom row, also passed a few years ago.

Please go onto Photo Album 9 – Arnold & Sue Heller: Treasured Family Photos Formerly Only on Home Display.