Samuel J. Heyman ’63: 1939-2009
Samuel J. Heyman ’63, who established the Heyman Fellowship Program at Harvard Law School to encourage graduates to pursue careers in federal service, died Nov. 7 in New York City. Heyman, who was also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board, was 70.
“It is with enormous sadness that we face this loss of a visionary leader, wise and invaluable adviser, great supporter and exemplary graduate of the Harvard Law School,” said Dean Martha Minow. “Sam began his career by answering President Kennedy’s call to service, working in Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department. That experience fueled his lifelong belief in the importance of federal service, and a dedication to helping bright young lawyers afford the opportunity to serve their country.”
After his time with the U.S. Department of Justice, Heyman served as chief assistant U.S. attorney for Connecticut. He left government service in 1968 to take over his family’s Connecticut-based real estate development business, and he subsequently built Heyman Properties into a leading commercial real estate development firm with operations throughout the United States.
In 1983, Heyman waged a successful proxy contest for control of GAF Corp.—a contest Barron’s characterized as “one of the most striking achievements in the annals of corporate finance.” As a result, he became the owner and chairman of one of the nation’s major privately held companies, consisting of an international specialty chemicals company (International Specialty Products) and North America’s largest manufacturer of residential roofing products. As with subsequent acquisitions, he was interested in running and improving the company he bought rather than stripping it down or selling it for quick profit.
Heyman’s many community activities included service on the boards of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1988, and the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. He was also a trustee of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, an associate at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and a board member of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Much of Heyman’s recent philanthropy was focused on his interest in advancing government service. In November 1999, he announced a major gift to Harvard Law School for the establishment of an innovative program designed to encourage students to enter federal government service upon graduation. He subsequently created similar fellowship programs at Yale Law School and Seton Hall University School of Law. In September 2001, Heyman founded the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C., to encourage young people to pursue careers in public service. He was serving as the partnership’s chairman at the time of his death.
Said Minow: “He single-handedly altered the career aspirations of so many by lifting up and supporting legal careers in the federal government and by educating the country on the growing need to draw talented lawyers to this service in the face of attrition. To students, alumni, faculty and deans, he has been an inspiration and change agent.”
Heyman’s survivors include his wife, Ronnie Feuerstein Heyman; his mother; his four children, among them Jennifer Millstone ’05 (married to David Millstone ’05); and nine grandchildren.