Leo Hecht, Army officer, GMU professor

December 19, 2012

Leo Hecht, 85, a retired Army major and intelligence officer who became a professor of Russian at George Mason University, died Dec. 4 at the Woodbine nursing center in Alexandria after a heart attack. He had Alzheimer’s disease.

His death was confirmed by Lori Murphy, his guardian and conservator.

Dr. Hecht served in the Army from 1945 to 1970 and one of his last assignments was in Vietnam. He joined the GMU faculty in 1972, became a full professor in 1977 and retired in 2004.

At the university, he once chaired the interdisciplinary program in Russian studies. His books included “Tolstoy the Rebel” (1976) and “The USSR Today” (1978) and “The Soviet Union Through Its Laws” (1983). He was a past editor of the journal Newsnotes, which focused on Soviet and East European drama and theater, and an officer of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages.

Leo Hecht was born in Vienna and came to the United States in 1939 with his mother. He was Jewish, and many immediate members of his family died in the Holocaust.

He was a graduate of Columbia University, where he also received a master’s degree and a doctorate in Russian literature. He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. During his time at GMU, he received Fulbright fellowships to study at Moscow State University.

His military honors include the Bronze Star Medal and two awards of the Meritorious Service Medal.

His first wife, Eva Rosentreter, died in 1995. His second wife, Tui Heekin, died in 2008. A daughter from his first marriage, Judith Hecht, died in 1999. He had no immediate survivors.

— Adam Bernstein

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