Ernesto Heidelberg

Obituary of Ernesto A. Heidelberg

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WESTPORT, CONN Ernesto Abraham Heidelberg, 85, beloved husband, father, brother and community leader in Westport, CT passed away on Friday, February 9, 2024. Ernesto, known lovingly as Ernie, passed away due to complications from Parkinsons. Ernesto is survived by his wife of 59 years, Zulma Heidelberg, and his daughters, Denise Heidelberg of Milford, CT, and Monica Heidelberg of Westport, CT/San Francisco, CA. He was born in Argentina on May 13, 1938, to the late Otto and Gerda Heidelberg. His parents emigrated to Argentina from Germany in the late 1930s to escape the brutality of the Nazis. Some of Ernesto’s relatives, including his parents, were able to flee just in time. Still, there were many other family members left behind in Germany and Holland who perished in the Holocaust. Ernesto was the eldest of his siblings, Eva and Eduardo. Ernie was an excellent student, always possessed a sharp intellect, near photographic memory, and fluency in many languages including Spanish, German and English. Ernie was an avid reader but also loved the outdoors and would tell stories about how he enjoyed mountaineering and camping in the Andes in his youth using the basic climbing equipment of the time. He also would reminisce about riding horses with his mother on month-long summer vacations in the hills of Cordoba. He developed a love of nature, travel, and exploration early in life. While earning his dual PhD degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Ernie began his career at Fiat in Argentina. Ernie met Zulma at age 24 and emigrated with his family to the United States to pursue a better life as Argentina was politically and economically unstable and his Engineering skills were in high demand. Ernie began working at IBM and after a year apart, and many love letters later, Ernie returned to Argentina and married Zulma, who had just completed her degree in Psychology. A week later, Ernie and Zulma moved together to Lexington, KY, and began their life and a family in the US. Ernie worked for IBM for a fulfilling 29 years. In 1974, Ernie moved with his family to Boulder, CO. The family enjoyed the Colorado mile-high warm sun, active lifestyle, mountains, and big sky sunsets. They then moved to Westport, CT in 1981. During his career at IBM, Ernie became a seasoned leader, working globally to innovate and improve Consumer Product Safety and Environmental processes. He worked to prevent accidents, better meet regulatory standards, and increase production efficiencies. He established a global organization of 400 professionals charged with obtaining regulatory product approvals for 80 countries. Ernie loved traveling abroad for work and implemented a worldwide Product Safety Professional Training Program in association with Duke University and Leeuwen University in Belgium. He taught the program for eight years at several locations in the US and Europe. Ernie also completed Post-Graduate work at the University of Kentucky, University of Colorado, and Duke University. After Ernie retired from IBM, he worked at the ASME (American Society for Mechanical Engineers) a 125,000-member professional organization. At ASME, he revitalized technical activities and managed engineering programs from energy production to design and manufacturing. He enjoyed designing and editing an online technical newsletter (blog) for an international managerial and professional audience in 80 locations and five continents. He also volunteered on the boards of several engineering organizations. After 9/11, Ernie became involved with Westport’s CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team funded by Homeland Security. He was one of the original members, joining in 2004, one year after the organization’s formation. Through Westport CERT, Ernie found a second chapter in his life that gave him profound satisfaction, meaning, and connection with his community. Ernie became president of CERT and led the volunteer organization for 13 years. He collaborated with the emergency response and town leaders in Westport and the broader CT regional emergency response community. He encouraged Zulma to get involved, and together- CERT- became their passion. They organized and trained volunteers for emergency preparedness, helped to open and manage shelters during Hurricane Sandy, and continuously worked with the EMS, Police, and Fire departments. Ernie truly loved leading the organization, collaborating with leaders, and organizing and conducting training for volunteers in town and across CT in a variety of emergency skills such as first aid, CPR, fire safety, hazardous materials awareness, emergency shelters, light search and rescue, and responding to disaster scenarios and terrorism. Ernie loved people and led with a characteristic smile, a sharp wit, and often unexpected humor. He loved to make people laugh and would wait for you to laugh along with him with a bright twinkle in his eyes. He was a wonderful listener, with an ability and desire to connect with anyone, from any background and status. Wherever he went, he would enjoy chatting with you about any topic with a humble insightful, well-informed lens. He was a positive person and did not tolerate gossip or complaining. He embodied what’s good; putting family and friends first, pursuing continuous learning, and instilling a strong work ethic in others. He carried himself with a soft elegance; and enjoyed dressing up in a suit and tie that he wore every day for work but also exemplified by his spoken word, full of courtesy and good manners. He was a rare good man, respectful, and kind. He will be fondly missed and forever in our hearts. Funeral services were held on Monday, February 12th at Temple Shalom Norwalk, CT and interment followed at Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport, CT. In place of flowers, contributions in Ernesto’s memory may be made to CERT by sending a check made out to: “Town of Westport" and in the memo line please write "In honor of Ernesto Heidelberg”. And mailed to the current President of CERT at: Mike Vincelli 3 Winslow Rd. Weston, CT 06883
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2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Monday, February 12, 2024
Willowbrook Cemetery
395 Main Street
Westport, Connecticut, United States


Section 14-Jewish, Row 11, Grave No. 10
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Ernesto Heidelberg

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Ernesto Heidelberg

1938 - 2024

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