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Frank O.A. Heintz

In his own words (click to view)
By June Heintz and Members of Elihu ’66 (below)

Frank O. A. Heintz was born March 12, 1944, three months before his birth father, Col. Edward S. Allee, died in a plane crash while testing the radar system he was designing at Boca Raton Air Base in Florida.  His mother, Allyn, remarried Col. Leo Harold Heintz.

When Frank was 11, the family moved to Bethesda, Maryland.  Frank followed his older brother into the Civil Air Patrol, a quasi-military youth organization.  His appointment as cadet commander and then his election as president of the student government at Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School laid the foundation for a life-long interest in the skills of leadership

At Yale, Frank joined the Political Union and heeled the News on the business side, but by the fall of sophomore year his attention had turned South, to Virginia.   Frank met June Rutledge, a religion major at Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, on a blind date in DC in the summer before their sophomore year. The chemistry was instantaneous.  Frank rode his red BSA motorcycle to see June every three weeks, and they married just before classes began in the fall of 1965, completing their degrees at separate colleges.  

By the fall of 1963, Yale was in ferment over the civil rights movement.  Inspired by William Sloane Coffin, Allard Lowenstein, and the Yale-in-Mississippi project, Frank drove a carload of Yale volunteers to Mississippi to help the NAACP, SNCC and CORE organize black voters in Aaron Henry’s mock campaign for governor.  The students were sent to Clarksdale, where they slept on the floor of a black pastor’s house until an event reported in the October 31, 1963 Yale Daily News:

Frank O.A. Heintz, 1966, was arrested in Clarksdale on the charge of reckless driving.  He is being held incommunicado along with another Yale student, Walter E. Wright, 1965.

June, visiting Yale for the first time, got a call from Frank that he had been in jail, released with bond paid by the NAACP, and was driving through the night to reach her.  When Frank arrived in New Haven,  glasses taped across the brow, he told June that when he argued with Chief Collins that this was a public street, Collins had hit him in the face.

As a senior Frank lived off campus, having been “rusticated” for leading a student riot that began after he rode a bicycle through the Old Campus with a sheet tied around his neck.  He was tapped for Elihu by his peers in the ’66 delegation in the fall of senior year.  Ken Coleman, his former Branford roommate, clinched Frank’s election with the story of the motorcycle courtship.

After graduation, Frank and June spent two years in the Peace Corps in Maharashtra, India.  Returning to the States in 1968 in the shadow of the draft, the couple settled in Baltimore where both found teaching jobs in public schools.

Baltimore city politics had been dominated by old-line political clubs, but by 1969, the city was experiencing a rapid change in demographics.  A group of younger, Vietnam-protest-era residents came together to mount a racially balanced ticket for State Senate and House of Delegates races.  The team swept all 10 offices in the 1970 election and Frank became one of the youngest members of the Maryland House of Delegates.

During his term, June gave birth to a son, Aron, followed in three years, by a daughter, Adrienne.  An early advocate for rail-to-path conversion, he once rode his bike from Baltimore to Annapolis when the General Assembly was in session to demonstrate that cars were not the only way to get around.

He was defeated when he ran for a second term in 1974, but his experience in the legislature motivated him to go to law school.  With a law degree from the University of Maryland and experience as an elected official, Lt. Gov. Blair Lee tapped him to be his administrative assistant.  After Lee himself became acting governor, he named Frank to head the Maryland Employment Security Administration in 1977.

In 1982 Frank was appointed Chair of the Public Service Commission, a post he held for a record 13 years, reappointed by several governors.  When he left office in 1995, the Baltimore Sun noted in an editorial:

“Most Marylanders are in his debt as he leaves the obscure but influential post of chairman of the state Public Service Commission. He has been one of the key traffic cops on the expanding information superhighway.… The PSC, under Mr. Heintz’s leadership, has been one of the most progressive state agencies in tearing down the old regulatory barriers between rival technologies.”

In the PSC, Frank had become an expert on energy and natural gas, and upon stepping down he accepted an offer from the American Gas Association in Washington, from which he moved to Baltimore Gas & Electric as vice president and head of natural gas operations.  Dorothy Schneider, a colleague at the utility, said of him:  “You could write a book about leadership watching Frank.  He understood business and its demands, and he never forgot the people who made the business successful.”  Steve Woerner, who succeeded him as head of BG&E in 2004, said of his predecessor: “Everything they teach you about how to lead, Frank nailed.”

After Frank’s retirement, he was appointed chairman of the Baltimore County Planning Commission and president of Baltimore’s Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.  Dr. Christopher Leighton, director, wrote at his passing that Frank led the institute during the construction of its new offices, and memorialized “…his keen intellect, his gentle humor, his uncommon ability to listen and do honor to divergent points of view, and his unflappable leadership.”

He retired as president of BG&E in 2004, with a reputation that led to his appointment to the Board of Directors of PEPCO Holdings, Inc., parent company of Potomac Electric Power, which serves Washington, D. C. and its surrounding areas.   In the final two years his fellow directors elected him to serve as Lead Director, effectively, chairman of the board.

In 2009, Frank and June moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, to be closer to children and grandchildren.  In the move, Frank left behind his reputation, many of his contacts, and, except for his PEPCO directorship, his life as a “suit.”  Around Charlottesville he was recognized as “the tall, smiling man swooping around corners on his blue bicycle.”  He became the pied piper to a group of neighborhood children whom he led on expeditions looking for evidence of “Doctor Sawbones,” a storied civil war surgeon.

Frank and June had begun meditating in Baltimore, and this practice of discovering and resting in the nature of mind grew in importance each year.  Frank read widely in the science of human-driven climate change and its impact on the future of the earth. He became a supporter of several organized efforts toward sustainable agriculture and community living, and an avid explorer of the world’s wisdom traditions, American Indian, Christian, and Buddhist.

Sandy Shapleigh, an Elihu colleague, remembers “that very knowing and kind twinkle in Frank’s eye when he spoke on topics both deep and light, …the grace with which he led us in a holding of hands as we ended our 50th reunion meeting at the house in 2016.”

Frank met his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer with calm acceptance.  To all the doctors, nurses, and technicians that Frank met over the next five months, he brought open-hearted curiosity about their lives and interests. He termed the last few months a “period of grace,” in which he felt a keen compassion for all beings and gratitude for being alive on this earth.  On a scrap of paper June found after his passing, Frank had written, “I’m feeling grateful for many little things that, in the past, I never thought to be grateful for!”  Although his strength and stamina were declining dramatically, he continued to be a strong presence in the lives of his two children and his grandchildren, pushing himself to the end.

Frank and June’s daily practice of sitting in meditation “always ended with dedicating the merit of our efforts to all beings, and an acknowledgement of birth, old age, sickness, and death.”  This wisdom laid the foundation for Frank’s equanimity at the end, at home, on January 24, 2018.