JACK HEISE, 84
Terps Booster Jack Heise, 84, Dies
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Back in the 1940s, Jack Heise played lacrosse for the University of Maryland and was the student manager of the basketball team. It was only the beginning of a lifelong devotion to the university and its athletic teams that earned Mr. Heise the title of "Mr. Maryland."
For more than 60 years, he attended almost every Maryland football and basketball game, home and away. He sent handwritten notes to coaches after every game, endowed scholarships and gave the university hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mr. Heise (pronounced HI-zee), who supported his dedication to the Terrapins as the senior partner in a Gaithersburg law firm, died Oct. 5 of a brain hemorrhage at his home in Bethesda. He was 84.
His loyalty knew no bounds. Rain or shine, win or lose, he was in the Terps's corner -- or, more precisely, directly behind the bench -- cheering on the players with an enthusiasm that never faded. At various times, Mr. Heise was president of the university's alumni association and its two leading booster groups, the Terrapin Club and M Club. He often went to games with syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who died in August.
"He's obsessed," Novak told the Tampa Tribune in 2007. "All the alumni know Jack. And there's no doubt about how much he loves the University of Maryland."
It wasn't unusual for Mr. Heise to see three Maryland games, in three sports, in a single day. He followed the fortunes of the lacrosse, volleyball, women's basketball and field hockey teams with as much fervor as he did football and men's basketball.
He attended every Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament, except two, since 1946 -- when the ACC was still called the Southern Conference.
His knowledge of Maryland sports history was so thorough that he could pinpoint when the school's primary colors changed from black and gold to red and white. It happened in 1942, when Clark Shaughnessy came to Maryland as head football coach. Mr. Heise was working in the equipment room at the time and unpacked the new uniforms, which had been redirected to Maryland from Stanford, Shaughnessy's old school.
In recent years, Mr. Heise watched football practices from coach Ralph Friedgen's golf cart and flew to basketball games on the Maryland team plane. He had known basketball coach Gary Williams since the 1960s, when Williams played point guard for the Terps.
"I wanted Jack to feel almost like he was a player on the team," Williams told the Baltimore Sun. "Maybe the one thing he wanted would have been being a basketball player. I always said, 'Jack, you're one of us.' "
When the men's basketball team reached the NCAA Final Four for the first time in 2001, Mr. Heise went along.
"I always promised my kids I'd take them to the Final Four if Maryland made it, so now I'm taking 10 children and grandchildren to Minneapolis," he said. "I'll be filing for bankruptcy when I get back."