September 19, 1930 - October 10, 2015
Austin, Texas | Age 85
George Heyer passed away peacefully at his home in Austin on October 10th at the age of 85 with his family by his side.
George was the son of George Stuart Heyer and Jane Gregory Heyer of Houston, Texas. He had deep family connections in Austin that go back to 1869 and include Earnest Nalle, who constructed the Paramount Theatre, and his grandfather, Thomas Watt Gregory, for whom Gregory Gymnasium at the University of Texas at Austin is named. He spent most summers at his home in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
George attended Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and went on to get his B.A. in Religion at Princeton University in 1952. He spent the following school year studying theology as a Woodrow Wilson scholar at the New School at the University of Edinburgh before returning to the United States and earning his Bachelors of Divinity at Yale Divinity School in 1956. After serving as an assistant minster of the First Presbyterian Church in San Angelo, Texas, George finished his education at Yale University, earning his PhD in Religious Studies in 1963.
After returning to Texas and settling in Austin, George began his teaching career at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in January 1964, teaching courses that focused on the history of Christian doctrine. He retired from teaching in 1993. George was very committed to his students and many remained lifelong friends. The George S. Heyer, Jr. Distinguished Lectureship was created to honor his career.
George had a deep and lifelong passion for fine art. He was a former chairman of both the Texas State Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Advisory Council for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. He also served for 40 years as a Trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. George's select, thoughtful, and internationally respected collection of English silver, items generally made between 1660 and 1760 by London's finest silversmiths, is the result of more than 25 years of his collecting efforts, and will be gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston for the enjoyment of the public. One of his other great joys in life was fishing and hunting, particularly wing-shooting, a passion instilled in him by his father and passed on to his sons and grandchildren. George's life was marked by the joy he found in humor and his deep and abiding love for and commitment to his many lifelong friends. He was also the cornerstone figure in his extended family, providing a source of stability and support, and his presence will be missed greatly. He will be remembered for his love of ice cream and chocolate, his signature chardonnay and ice, his love of travel, and his penchant for bestowing unique nicknames like "Doodle Bug", "Wompus", "Foofie" and "Superstar" on family members.
George was predeceased by his sister Jane Heyer Tallichet (1963), his wife Hallie Dewar Heyer (1990), his son Gregory Stuart Heyer (2001), and his stepson and ever-present companion Jamie Dewar Ferguson (2014). He is survived by his daughter Jennifer Parmelee Heyer and Brad Richardson, his son William McIver Heyer and his wife Connie, his nephew Henri Lucien Tallichet and his wife Janet, his nephew George Stuart Tallichet and his wife Marisue, stepson Scott Ferguson and his wife Kelly, stepdaughter Hallie Ferguson, stepson Jody Ferguson and his wife Mila, his grandchildren Nicole and Will Heyer, and step grandchildren Rachel, Walt and Claire Ferguson, Alex, Paulina and Phillip Ferguson, Hallie Fei Smith and Max Chester.
"Had we but world enough and time" is the first line of George's favorite poem. While we wish he had had more time in this world, his family and friends are very thankful for George's long and rich life.
A graveside service for family and close Houston friends will be held at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston at 1:30PM on Tuesday October 20th. A memorial service will be held in Austin at All Saints Episcopal Church at 3:00PM on Wednesday October 28th followed by a reception at Tarry House. Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary has graciously and enthusiastically agreed to allow parking at their site for the memorial service on the 28th. Parking will also be available in the UT parking garage adjacent to All Saints for $2 with church validation.
In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Austin Symphony, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Saint Paul's Church (Nantucket), the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, or the Nantucket Historical Association.