Les Heller and his 92-year-old father

Les Heller and his 92-year-old father

When I contacted Les Heller about the photo he posted on FaceBook (left) of himself with his 92-year-old father, I asked if he had retired. Here’s what he wrote back:

“Retired ????  That is a word that is not in my vocabulary…
Les Heller, 1968

Les Heller, 1968

To “Retire” suggests that you had found your life’s work, were smart enough to save a little something, planned a bit for later on in life..and now can relax and spend some time enjoying all you worked for ….NOT….. ALL these things seemed to escape me!”

I noticed that Les listed his residence as Golden Valley, Minnesota, and asked how he got there from Burbank High, 1968, he said, “Let’s say…”I’m still looking for my NICHE.” He’s done everything from living in Australia after getting out of the Navy, to offshore oil drilling, selling jewelry at Zales, owned a Baskin-Robbins, managed four different Subway restaurants, managed auto parts stores, and worked in a machine shop. For the last 12 or 13 years he has proclaimed himself an “Internet Marketing Sales Specialist” which means he sells on eBay!
Les in younger days

Les in younger days

Les said he ended up in Minnesota back in 1978, “running from a broken heart.” He says, “I have been married three times…all wonderful ladies…No kids, had a cat for 12 years…cried more when he died than I ever did over any of the divorces!”

After a brief stint back in Long Beach, he’s been in Minnesota taking care of his parents. His mother fought emphysema for 13 years and passed away four years ago. He says that “the last few years were very very hard…after that, my dad was alone for a year, but I was still at his place a couple times a day, and did all his driving, etc. So we just decided that me moving in would be the easiest thing…Pop is my Energizer Bunny; he just Keeps on Keepin’ On!” 
Les Heller in the Navy

Les Heller in the Navy

Les said that the photo with his father was taken last Thanksgiving, and he now considers taking care of him is his main lot in life. I wondered how he was coping with all the cold and snow, and he wrote: “Cold and snow is more mental than anything else…you just have to dress for it and realize EVERYTHING you do depends on the weather….  I have been to Hawaii 5 times, all when I was in the Navy on a destroyer, coming and going from Vietnam…it is such a lovely place, I can only hope to visit again someday. HECK, I would have been happy to make it back to Burbank for the last reunion. My Pop has told me stories about being on the beach on Waikiki before the war (WWII) — there was a beer stand and not much else, maybe one Hotel… I can only imagine.

Les also posted a great picture of Mr. Seymour Novins‘ class at Emerson School some time ago. I am grateful for those people who have “historic” photos like this (Les calls them “hysteric”!) because some of us do not have any pictures from that era. I’m challenging all you Burbank High 1968 grads to identify as many people as you can.
In the back row there’s Carole Aikin, Stephanie Llewellyn, Mike Zook, George Parsons, Steve Irey and Kathy Benno. I’m in the second row, standing next to Mr. Novins. Les Heller is further down in the same row, standing next to Kay Gumm, and Bill Vahoviak is on the end. In the front row, Tenny Battles is fifth from the right, then Bob Dieudonne and Dale Rubin are near the end. Click the photo to see an enlarged view.
Emerson School, 6th Grade with Mr. Novins

Emerson School, 6th Grade with Mr. Novins (click to enlarge)


About Katherine Crosier

I am an organist in Honolulu—a rare breed of folks who play the King of Instruments! Through stories, photos, and videos, this blog is a diary of my musical journey ... and my family just groans!

6 responses »

  1. Rick Watson says:

    Hi Les. What a story indeed. Great job taking care of your parents. God bless you.
    Rick Watson

  2. Alyse Plotkin says:

    What a full life!! Nice to read about you, glad you are well.

  3. I do love seeing what everyone is doing even though I have yet to go to a reunion.
    I want to thank Katherine for her efforts with this blog.
    Reading about what Les is up to is great, especially seeing the photo of him in dress whites and, let me guess, Subic Bay about 1969, Olongapo bar with a San Miguel on the table. Been there done that! RM3? And all the best to your Dad.

  4. Richard Gilbert says:

    Seymour Novins is my uncle.

    • Katherine Crosier says:

      Wow! We are so glad to hear from you. We all remember Mr. Novins the teacher even though it has been decades ago! Could you tell me how he is doing? I believe he still lives in Burbank, right?

      • Richard Gilbert says:

        Hi. I wish I could tell you, but I don’t know. He is my mother’s brother and they have been out of contact for a very long time (there have been a lot of disruptions in my family). I last saw him in 1971. I found this photo because I’ve been looking for him, hoping to reconnect. Seeing the photo made me very emotional as I recalled his generosity and good nature. As far as I know, he is 93 and living in Burbank. I called him yesterday and left a message, but he hasn’t returned the call. My mother is 85 and they have a sister who is 91; both are doing reasonably well, so I can only hope Seymour has sturdy genes and remains robust. I’ll reply again if I find out anything. I’m saddened to be unable to tell you more but grateful that you care about him.

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