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Gone is the smile, the jokes, the friendly handshake, the hearty welcome. Remaining is the broken heart, the sorrow, the emptiness, the grieving.
On October 10, 2019, Clifford Venable Heiser, 86, died peacefully in the arms of his loving wife, surrounded by family, at his home in Port Charlotte, FL. He leaves a void in the hearts of friends in New Jersey and Virginia, where he had lived for many years.
Cliff was born on June 17, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey to Clifford and Dorothy Messeroll Heiser. Upon graduation from Caldwell High School, he enlisted in the US Air Force, serving during the Korean War era as a control tower operator in the then territory of Alaska.
After attending Rutgers University, he utilized is people skills with great success as claims supervisor in the insurance industry until his retirement.
To volunteer and serve were a mainstay for Cliff. From 1962-1975 he served as 1st Assistant Chief of the West Caldwell, NJ, Volunteer Fire Department, which flew the mourning banner at the firehouse in his memory. We thank them for that honor.
As a member of the Kiwanis in NJ and Urbanna, VA, he was very proud to be serving as President when women were first admitted into the organization. For many years Cliff also volunteered at the Military Heritage Museum in Punta Gorda, helping to move it twice and watching it grow from 2 small rooms in Fisherman’s Village to its present beautiful home. He was also a member of the American Legion Post 110. With deep respect for the military, Cliff actively participated in functions of Ukrainian American Veterans Post # 40 in his adopted Ukrainian community in North Port.
Since early childhood, flying and airplanes were front and center for Cliff, whether flying family on jaunts up the East Coast or building model airplanes. He enjoyed being a member of the Charlotte County Modelers and built models ranging from balsa wood to static line to radio controlled. The living room was consigned as his personal airplane hangar.
Cliff’s love of music ran the gamut from big bands to opera, and he appreciated every genre. While moonlighting as a guitar instructor, he met the love of his life, who would tease him with “the only reason I went out with you was to get free guitar lessons”.
Fishing and cruising in his classic wooden boats were pure joy for Cliff. Many evenings were spent saluting the glorious sunsets over Charlotte Harbor with champagne while regaling his friends and family with fishing stories and whopper tales. Even those who knew him well, were never quite sure whether he was pulling their leg.
Not one to let moss grow under his feet, upon retirement, Cliff obtained a competition racing license and raced his vintage Datsun 240Z at Summit Point, WVA, Road Atlanta, Sebring and Daytona. He was member of the Gulf Coast Autocross, Class Champion in 2001, raced with SCCA and an official instructor for the National Auto Sport Association.
Cliff was a kind, caring and compassionate gentleman with a wicked sense of humor. He was the proud owner of 3 different licenses: pilot, charter boat captain and car racing. And so he has played his last song, caught his last fish, raced his last lap and landed his last plane. He will be sorely missed by many, many friends who loved him, especially his dog, Chippy.
Cliff is survived by his wife of 45 years, Lieda Boyko, daughter Carrie DelVecchio and grandson Michael LaDonne of New Jersey, brother-in-law Bohdan Boyko with wife Anne Johnson, niece Ginny and nephew Michael Boyko of Williamsburg and sister-in-law Olena Boyko of Urbanna, VA.
Memorial contributions may be made online to Revived Soldiers Ukraine, rsukaine.org or mailed to Revived Soldiers Ukraine, c/o Iryna Discipio, 9542 Tavistock Rd, Orlando, FL 32827, to support treatment of Ukrainian wounded warriors in the US.
You may share a memory with the family at baldwincremation.com. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.