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 it's hard to guess where he's from. His full name is John Michael Heller, but only since 9/11 has John been used much -- now every airline ticket must read exactly like your passport and ID.

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 married Kathy, a fellow student, and their first child arrived while he was a senior. That marriage spanned 18 years, 3 children, and lots of experiences and company moves. After a divorce, he slowly ventured into the scary mid-life dating scene, and met lots of nice people. Then one day, at a church singles program, Sandy introduced herself, and a new chapter in his life began. They have now been married 37 years.

On the work front, he started with 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 high-reliability computer company (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 spending 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 slightly older than Mike's, and more dispersed: 1 in the Bay Area, 1 near Sacramento, and 1 in the Palm Springs area. The six now range in age from 52 to 60. There are now 7 grand children, and 4 great-grand kids. Many of them are pictured in the Family News section.

Sandy's work has been more varied than Mike's, having 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 not long after meeting Mike, and spends considerable time running the family investment portfolio (quite important, since neither have pensions). She also is very active with the Assistance League of Diablo Valley (Thrift Shop, and various \ service 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.