Edwin James  Heffernan, M.D.'s Memorial

Edwin James Heffernan, M.D.
(1950 - 2008)


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General Details

Name: Dr Edwin James Heffernan, M.D.
Nick Name: Ted
Gender: Male
Age: 57 years old
Lived: Tuesday, 1 August 1950 - Wednesday, 23 January 2008

My Story

Dr. Edwin James (Ted) Heffernan died unexpectedly from a heart attack on January 23rd in his home in Anchorage.

Born in Auburn, New York to Eleanor and Leo Heffernan, Ted grew up in Skaneateles near the Finger Lakes.  He had an active, sports-filled childhood, fueled by five siblings who loved athletics as he did.  He spent much of his youth on a baseball diamond or golf course. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he was a recipient of the Robert Frost Award for poetry, and graduated with a BA in Religious Studies.  During college, he took some time off to spend a year living in a religious commune in Haight-Ashbury, and to protest the Vietnam war.  In 1978, he married Patricia Sullivan, with whom he had two sons.  The boys were raised in San Diego.

Having graduated from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, Ted served as the head of the Infectious Disease Division from 1985 to 1988 at the Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA, where he was named Teacher of the Year.  From 1988 to 1993, he was a fellow at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.  In 1993, he became the Director of Graduate Medical Education at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.   Beginning in the year 2000, he developed a successful palliative care service, the first in the Scripps Hospital system.

In 2004 Ted moved to Alaska and joined the Providence Alaska Medical Center to serve as the Medical Director of their new Palliative Care department.  He also created the first Palliative Care fellowship in the state.  In 2005, Ted remarried and lived with his wife, Cristy Allyn Willer, and her two daughters, Ulu and Rachel, in Anchorage.

In his lifetime, Ted developed a wide range of interests, including baseball, hiking, dancing, cross-country skiing, poetry, politics, movies from Monty Python to Bergman, fly- fishing, books, and all sorts of music.  He also grew to love his Irish ancestry and all things Celtic.  On his search in later life for a spiritual path, he met Roshi Joan Halifax, which led him to hike Mt. Kailash in Tibet and begin his Buddhist practice.  He loved good meals and Saturday mornings filled with meandering talk by the fire. He had an unsurpassed knack for remembering facts, which helped with both explaining things in detail and winning trivia games.  He was funny, genuinely interested in people and deeply loved his family and friends.

Those who love him will remember him as being intelligent, courageous, compassionate, hot-tempered, generous, competitive, thoughtful, funny, adventurous, sensitive, passionate, and wise.  He listened well.  He loved with everything he had.

He is survived by his wife, Cristy Allyn Willer, her daughters Ulu and Rachel, his two sons Rian and Paul Heffernan, his ex-wife Patricia Heffernan, and his five siblings and their families: Terry, Cathy, Tim, John and Kevin. 

We will all greatly miss his sweet presence.

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Dr. Ted Heffernan was a great and dear friend of Upaya Zen Center and its founder Roshi Joan Halifax. He gave his wis...


Fathers Name: Leo
Mothers Name: Eleanor
Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
City of Residence: Anchorage, AL
Occupation: Healthcare & Medical
Marital Status: Married
Religion: Buddhist


Favourite Charity: Upaya Zen Center


Place of Passing: Anchorage, AL
Date of Passing: 23 January 2008
Cause of Passing: Heart Attack

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