family memories

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! We will miss you for the rest of our lives!

Love, Elisabeth
Charles & Elisabeth

And Kate
Charles & Kate

Today in Posthumous notes from Charles, we celebrate Charles’ lifelong self-education and hunger for knowledge.

Many of the notes in the pile are in this theme: they are notes Charles made of information he might need again someday. I have no idea if these were notes from college classes, or the self-education he enjoyed for the rest of his life — he saw no reason why no longer being in school was a reason to stop learning about the world, especially history and evolution and the science of the human brain.

I think the cards range throughout his years, and these are probably pretty early ones…

Charles Heinle Notes #5

Charles Heinle Notes #6

Because Charles put such emphasis on self-education and life-long learning, he was not very bothered about grades, which meant that my sister Kate and I were encouraged to get good grades, but he never pressured us the way some parents pressure their children, which I think made it easier on both of us to see school as a place to learn, not just “I must get ‘A’s!”

I myself was surprised to discovered I’d graduated college cum laude — I’d not paid the slightest attention to my GPA, just enjoyed my time at the university. And Kate graduated summa cum laude, so obviously Charles’ policy of supporting but not pressuring really paid off, there!

Charles Heinle Notes #2

This is Charles’ wonderful box of treasures, which he kept at his bedside.

This is not at all the sum total of the wonderful things he has left behind, for those who love him to cherish (and wonder over), but it’s a nice little sample of the kinds of small, accumulated treasures a life as long and varied as his can accrue.

Heartrendingly, now we will never know the stories behind many of these items — and only a very few are self-explanatory — most are as puzzling and mysterious (even in their mundanity) as were so many aspects of his life!

Are the marbles from his childhood?

What doors do those keys open…?

Why did he have an ankh necklace‽

As you may recall, I started the Posthumous notes from Charles Project — and then our printer/scanner promptly broke! Well, we now have a new one, so I can start things up again!

The pile of notes has yielded this amazing quote from Francis Bacon:

Charles Heinle Notes #2

If you can’t read it in the image, it says,

There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.

This really speaks to me. And what it tells me is that my father influenced my aesthetic sense, and even down to how I see the world every day, far more than I would ever have guessed.

Because Charles was so many generations from me in age, and because when I knew him he was so completely focused on the Pimsleur Language Programs (to the exclusion of much else, as the years went on), there was a great deal we could not share when he was alive.

So it makes me deeply happy to know that when I enjoy something weirdly beautiful or gorgeously macabre, that it’s a bit of his spirit moving in me.

It makes me even happier to think that when I make art that is strange yet striking, weird but wonderfully compelling, that part of my inspiration comes from him, and always has.

Weir2X statue beauty decay

Today an obituary for Charles Heinle has run in The Boston Globe.

Here’s the opening:

Wearing one of his Russian fur or Irish Donegal tweed hats, Charles August Steuber Heinle, with his French Briard sheepdog, was a common sight on the streets of Concord for many years. He had moved there when he was in his mid-50s to be near the place where his hero, poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, was born and buried.

In honor of Thoreau’s book, “Walden, ” he married his wife, Beverly, at Walden Pond in 1973 on Christmas Day, which was also his birthday.

“It was snowing but suddenly the sun came out,” she said. “When the ceremony was over, it started snowing again.’’

His “dynamic personality’’ and his charm had attracted her, said Beverly, who was his business partner when they owned Pimsleur Language Programs. “We had a complete personal-professional relationship. Our business and home life merged and we shared every aspect of our lives.’’

Mr. Heinle, a publisher, writer, and poet, died of Alzheimer’s disease on July 23 at Concord Health Care Center in Concord. He was 95.

His daughter, Elisabeth Weir of San Francisco, said he died peacefully wearing headphones and listening to Brahms’s “Ein Deutsches Requiem” (Op. 45) — “one of his very favorite pieces.”

After fulfilling years in a variety of jobs, Mr. Heinle’s interest in foreign language education led him to meet Paul Pimsleur, creator of Pimsleur Language Programs, in 1966.

I am John David Heinle. I would like to offer my perspective as number 2 son of Charles the great. When someone has been around for 95 years it’s difficult to think of them in the past tense.
Charles Heinle and son John Heinle
While a eulogy, which means to “speak well” of someone, is supposed to be about their positive aspects, one unusual story I remember about Pop touches on his general disgruntledness about working at Chilton Books many long years ago. Let me quickly add that while growing up with him was challenging at times, he delightfully mellowed later on into the amazing man we all knew.

Anyway, one evening at dinner, we asked Pop how his day was at work. Expecting the usual litany of complaints, we were stunned when he replied that it had been a good day at the office. Suddenly, without a word between us, my 2 brothers, my Mother and I spontaneously gave him a standing ovation.

Pop was an amazing salesman. He applied for a job selling refrigerators and while he was waiting for the interviewer to show up he sold 2 refrigerators. In the 1950s, he sold Singer sewing machines door-to-door. The man was a charmer.
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