Philip F. Heller, 1956-2015

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Every member of the chemical information community is aware of Phil’s numerous contributions, first as a long-standing  employee  of the Institute for Scientific Information,  and then for many years at Thieme. It would take too long to list them all here. Some members of the community also had the privilege to know Phil as an “industry colleague.” A few of us knew him as a coworker, a friend, a mentor, or, as Alex jokingly called him, her “work husband.” This note is about Phil, the person.

We miss Phil on Mondays and Thursdays the most – or on the days when he used to work at the New York office. It took us weeks to gather the strength to clean his desk and dispose of the VfB Stuttgart (a soccer team in Germany) coffee cup that had always been full of steaming black coffee. We weren’t quite ready to let the small mementos go yet. We wrote hundreds of emails to his customers, many of whom were his friends, and the response was always the same, “what a terrible loss, he was such a great person, such a wonderful representative, a true friend…” even from people who knew him only via email and phone.  “He was unfailingly kind,” someone said about Phil.

As difficult as those messages were, they also helped us form a lasting memory of Phil, of the colleague who was always ready to share his vast industry knowledge and help us whenever help was needed. Of the unassuming mentor whose experience we often relied upon in our work. Of the travel companion, who seemed, in his business travels, to have been everywhere and had suggestions and advice for places to which we had never been. Of an extraordinary sales executive, who personified “relationship management” and “consultative selling” in his work. And of the friend, whose memory will always be with us.

Adam Bernacki and Alexandra Williams
Phil’s closest coworkers at Thieme