The Story of Mike and Sandy Heller

Mike was born in Alabama, but at 3, his mother's asthma prompted a move to El Paso, Texas -- a warm and dry place where accent's are rare - hence the difficulty in guessing where he's from. His full name is John Michael Heller, but only recently has John seen much use. (If you buy an international plane ticket, it better match the full name on your passport!)

After graduating from Burges High School, he went to college in nearby Las Cruces, New Mexico, earning an Electrical Engineering degree while doing many part-time jobs. He found time to marry Kathy, a fellow student, and to have his first child while a senior. That marriage spanned 18 years, 3 children (each born in a different city), and lots of experiences and company moves. After a divorce, he ever so slowly ventured into the (scary) mid-life dating scene. It didn't turn out bad at all, and he met lots of nice people. Then one day, at a singles program at a nearby church, Sandy introduced herself, and a new chapter in his life began. They have now been married over 36 years.

On the work front, he started work for Pacific Telephone in Los Angeles 2 days after graduation. Over 24 years, Mike moved from purely engineering work into managing computer sytems, and enjoyed five promotions, many transfers (including 4 years in New York City and 2 years in London, England), and an Executive Program at Stanford University. Mike left to join a company building high-reliability computers (now part of HP) and later spent a decade working for Internet pioneer Cisco Systems. (For both these companies, he spent about half his time on business travel in Asia.)

After retiring in 2004, Mike starting lots of time helping build houses (mainly electrical work) for Habitat for Humanity (he has now personally worked on over 300 homes). He and Sandy also travel a great deal (check out the Travel section of this web site).

Children wise, Mike has 2 daughters and a son from his first marriage: Ginger, Patty, and Chris. All live around the San Francisco Bay area.



Sandy is the rare person who was actually born in San Francisco. She grew up in San Mateo, where a blind date lead to her first marriage and three children, all boys: Mark, Mike, and Rick. Sandy's three are more spread out - one is a building contractor in the Bay Area, one a Physician Assistant in a town near Sacramento, and one a Marketing Manager at a big theater in the Palm Springs area. Sandy's three are slightly older than Mike's three, with the six ranging in age from 49 to 57, and there are now 7 grandchildren and four great-grand kids. Many of them are pictured in the Family News section.

Sandy's work has been more varied than Mike's, as she has been an accountant, a real estate agent, a traveling sales person, a shopping center property manager, and an office manager for several companies. Sandy has lived in the Bay Area her whole life, other than two short husband-triggered stints, a year in southern Maryland with first husband Bob, and 2 years in London, England, with Mike. (Guess which she enjoyed more!!)

Sandy retired a while ago, and spends considerable time running the family investment portfolio (quite important, since neither has a pension to rely on). She also is very active with the Assistance League of Diablo Valley (works at the Thrift Shop, and other projects), and also helps the local Meals on Wheels organization. Church activities are always on the calendar, and of course she travels the world with Mike.
See MORE notes on Mike's career here.