In Memory

James Earl 'Jim' Heber - Class Of 1948

James Earl 'Jim' Heber

Dad's final orders came in the afternoon of July 20, 2017. My dad, Jim Heber Class of '48, died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 87 of congestive heart failure and complications from COPD.

He was an extraordinary Dad but an even more extraordinary representative of SPHS and UCLA with his contributions to the field of optics, coupled with his dedication to freedom as a Navy pilot. He was married to my mom, Barbara for 63 years. They had five children:  Bob, Leslie, Lisa, John, and Lynn, along with three granddaughters and one grandson. Dad didn't graduate from UCLA until he was 30 years old because of duty to Uncle Sam. But his ties to UCLA started just before his calling. He once scored a goal in a summer water polo game for Glendale College at the old Glendale municipal pool against legendary former UCLA water polo and swimming coach Bob Horn, the goalie for Fullerton College. Then, he had a chance to play water polo at UCLA and continue his education but he turned it down when he received his appointment to the US Navy Aviation Cadet Program.

Dad transferred to UCLA in 1957 after 1 1/2 years at San Diego State, following his discharge from the regular Navy as an anti-submarine pilot in 1956. He continued to fly in the Navy Reserve during his studies in engineering at UCLA. He completed his degree in mechanical engineering in 1960. In July 1961 he found his dream job at Hughes Aircraft, but he was only there for a month as his Naval Reserve squadron was called into active duty for 13 months during the Berlin and Cuba missile crises in 1961. Following his discharge from active duty in October 1962, he returned to Hughes Aircraft and began his 32 year career where he was the optics laboratory manager for more than 20 years. He continued in the Navy Reserve, completing nearly 200 carrier landings in the regular Navy and Naval Reserve including three missions in Vietnam during the height of the war, before retiring from the reserves in 1972 as a Lieutenant Commander.

My dad was known nationally and internationally for his optics expertise and also worked on the repairs for the Hubble Telescope. After retiring from Hughes Aircraft in 1993, he did optics consulting for several companies in the San Fernando Valley. One project, while in his 70s, included consulting with an Israeli company on a mirror for a fire control system for the Israeli Air Force.

He will be sorely missed by his friends in the electro-optical industry for his professionalism, thoroughness, and the opportunities and expertise he provided to his fellow employees. His heartbroken family will miss how he gave them the opportunities to succeed with hard work and kind words...and his love for UCLA sports and ice cream!

Bob Heber, (Jim's son) July 27, 2017