Wednesday, October 20, 2021

AOCS remembers John Heilman, AOCS Past President

We wish to express our sympathies to the AOCS community and John Heilman’s family. John’s passing was a surprise to many. Below are some of the memories we have received since his passing on September 26, 2021.

About John Heilman

John E Heilman
John graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961 and the next year began his nearly 60 years of membership with AOCS. During this time, he volunteered his time and insights for many committees and eventually worked his way up, serving as AOCS President in 1998. John provided support and business acumen while serving from 2002–2011 on the Business Management Committee. John was recognized for his service by winning the A.R. Baldwin Distinguished Service Award and being awarded an AOCS Fellow in 2002. He will be missed by many.

Thoughts and memories from a few of John’s colleagues

"I first met John Heilman when I was a project engineer in Guntersville, Alabama. He had come down from New York City to discuss the expansion project at the plant. He was cordial and very bossy! We listened to his idea and then showed him a different way to do the project. He did hear us out and finally agreed with our input.  
"Once the project was completed, John and I had a very good working relationship until he retired. We traveled together to many countries in the world and within the US as well. Traveling with John was a lot of fun and at every meeting in the morning we would first discuss our dinner plans. And of course, the wine selection also. He claimed to be a connoisseur of both.
"He encouraged me to join AOCS when I relocated to New York City. We attended most of the meetings together and were instrumental in founding the AOCS Processing Division. John and I also presented papers at the World Conference on Oilseed and Edible Oil Processing held Oct. 3–8, 1982, in The Hague, The Netherlands.

"The last time I spoke to him was in early September of 2021 during my visit to New Jersey.  Even though he was not well he was always cheerful. I will miss him dearly. May his soul rest in eternal peace."

— Sadru Dada, International Agribusiness Consultant, former colleague at Continental Grains

"John was the most loyal employee that we could have had for over 40 years. He was always ready to support a new project and to utilize new technology. John started in the processing industry working for Armour back in the 60s. He joined Continental with the Allied Mills Division and eventually moved into Continental Grain with the consolidation in the 1970s. John was instrumental in building the Liverpool, Brazilian, Argentine, and Trinidad crushing plants and developing the Italian operations. He was involved in the South Dakota crushing plant. John functioned as the Processing Division’s Senior engineer for many years. John was always a source of information. He was still there to offer advice as recently as last month. We will miss his humor and off-hand remarks."

— Ron Anderson, former colleague at Continental Grains

"John and I worked together for 21 years at Continental Grain. First in Illinois and then in New York City. For many years, John, Sadru Dada and I handled the oversight of Conti's oilseed processing groups physical plant operations and engineering activities. It was a privilege to work with John daily.  Sadru was the perfect balancing factor to keep us in focus."

— Dan Decker, former colleague at Continental Grains

"I remember once being with John at a customer's office in Canada where he was acting as a consultant. He was always very thorough and demanding, not willing to take no for an answer. He could even come across as a little officious at times. During the discussion, we called the Desmet Ballestra office in Atlanta, USA, to try to talk to someone but were told he was in a meeting and not available.

"Not to be outdone, John sat up very straight in his chair and put on a superior air.  With a smile and a twinkle in his eye he said, “Tell him John Heilman's on the phone.” It had the desired effect and the person he wanted to speak to was soon on the line."

— Alan Paine, Consultant, UK

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