Edwin "Ted" Heffernan

by Tamara Von Gemmingen

Anchorage resident Edwin "Ted" Heffernan, 57, died of cardiac arrhythmia (heart attack) Jan. 23, 2008, at home.
Services were Jan. 30 at the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Feb. 12 at Providence Alaska Medical Center.
Ted was born Aug. 2, 1950, in Auburn, N.Y., to Eleanor and Leo Heffernan.
"He had an active, sports-filled childhood, fueled by five siblings who loved athletics as he did," his family wrote.
Ted attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he was a recipient of the Robert Frost Award for poetry and graduated with a bachelor's degree in religious studies. During college, he spent a year living in a religious commune in Haight-Ashbury, protesting the Vietnam War. In 1978, he married Patricia Sullivan, with whom he had two sons. The boys were raised in San Diego.
Having graduated from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, Ted served in the U.S. Navy and was appointed head of the Infectious Disease Division from 1985 to 1988 at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., where he was named Teacher of the Year. From 1988 to 1993, he was a fellow at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine. In 1993, he became the director of graduate medical education at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego. In 2000, he developed a successful palliative care service, the first in the Scripps Hospital system, his family wrote.
In 2004, Ted moved to Alaska and joined Providence Alaska Medical Center, serving as the medical director of their new palliative care department. Under his leadership, the specialty grew quickly; his efforts included helping to start Providence Hospice and creating the first palliative care fellowship in the state. In 2005, Ted remarried and lived with his wife, Cristy Allyn Willer, and her two daughters, Ulu and Rachel, in Anchorage.
His family wrote: "In his lifetime, Ted developed a wide range of interests including baseball, hiking, dancing, cross-country skiing, poetry, politics, movies, fly-fishing, books and music of every variety. He also grew to love his Irish ancestry and all things Celtic. In his search for a spiritual path, he met Roshi Joan Halifax, which led him to hike Mount Kailash in Tibet and to begin his Buddhist practice. He loved good meals and Saturday mornings filled with meandering talk by the fire. He was genuinely interested in people and loved his family and friends deeply. He approached life with a playful intensity, and, as he said many times, his favorite strategy was to 'proceed until apprehended.'
"Those who love him will remember him as being intelligent, courageous, compassionate, quick to both tears and laughter, generous, competitive, funny, adventurous, passionate and wise. He listened well. He loved with everything he had. We will greatly miss his sweet presence."
He is survived by his wife, Cristy Allyn Willer, and her daughters, Ulu and Rachel Tilden; sons, Rian and Paul Heffernan; ex-wife, Patricia Heffernan; and siblings and their families, Terry, Cathy, Tim, John and Kevin.
Donations may be sent to the Upaya Institute and Zen Center (www.upaya.com

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