Aaron Heller, 97
Aaron Heller, a World War II veteran and long-time Great Books leader, died Sunday May 17th at the Delaware Valley Veteran's Home. He was 97, and one of ten children of Matisyahu Heller, a ritual slaughterer in South Philadelphia.
Aaron graduated from Central High School of Philadelphia and then volunteered for the Army Air Force. He spent World War II as a radio operator on New Caledonia, at an airfield under radio silence. He transcribed the evening news from Morse code and "read a lot of books."
After the war he attended the University of Pennsylvania under the G.I. Bill of Rights, where he met and married Rita Menduke. He completed his course requirements for a Ph.D. in History, but abandoned his thesis upon discovering that there were no history faculty positions available at the time. He then worked at a textile mill and a Social Security office before becoming a partner in an auto parts store. He later opened his own auto parts store, and ran it until retiring at 80.
Aaron was passionate about books, art, music, and chess. He and Rita were active in Great Books, and Aaron led several Great Books groups over the years. Aaron studied painting, and painted many canvases during his retirement.
Aaron is survived by his three children, Martin, Barbara, and Joel, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. His wife Rita died in 2018.