Charles August Steuber Heinle, 95, of Concord, MA passed away Monday, July 23, 2012 at Concord Health Care Center.

Steuber-Heinle FamilyCharles was born December 25th, 1916, on Tioga Street in Philadelphia, to Charles J. Heinle, a pharmaceutical chemist and inventor, and Elisabeth Steuber Heinle, a nurse. He was the second of four siblings, including his sisters Margaretta and Katherine and his brother, Bob, all now deceased. He grew up on Cheltenham Avenue in Crescentville (Philadelphia), an active child who excelled in music (piano, clarinet, organ, and voice). Family summers were spent in Atlantic City with his maternal grandparents, creating some of Charles’s fondest memories of his childhood.

Following the untimely death of their beloved wife and mother in 1933, Charles’ father married Beulah (Betty) Bieber and the family was joined by Charles’ remaining surviving brother, Edward Heinle.

Charles Heinle in opera MarthaCharles attended Olney High School where he performed in his first opera, Martha. He graduated in 1934, and later studied English at Temple University. After graduation Charles pursued an operatic career, studying in NY under the renowned vocal coach Giuseppe Boghetti (who also coached Jan Pierce, Helen Traubel, and Marion Anderson). He had a Carnegie Hall debut. Although he subsequently went on to other pursuits, he remained devoted to opera throughout his life. And he and his sons did a wicked barbershop quartet.

At various times in his life, Charles held a series of varied and colorful jobs, including working for his father marketing and distributing Heinle’s Root Beer (later sold to Hires), selling Singer Sewing Machines door-to-door, owning and operating the Pyramid Coffee and Tea Shop, running a leased department in Gimbels distributing Elna Sewing Machines, serving as a legal and accounting clerk for the Girard Trust, and working as a researcher for novelist Irving Stone in California.

Charles married Ruth Leight in 1938. He is survived by all four children of that marriage: He is survived by all four children of that marriage and their spouses: Dolores Louise Beatty and Albert Beatty; Charles Henry Heinle and Anne Marie Phillips; John David Heinle and Marion Ferry; and Raymond J. Heinle, as well as 10 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.
Charles Heinle with children and grandchildren
He published his first book of poetry, Bridges, in 1937. That was followed by On Shifting Sands in 1941.

Charles Heinle Armed Forces Radio ServiceWhen Word War II started, Charles was at first adamant about his ideals as a pacifist, and even though he had a family, was over the draft age, and had not been called up for service, he followed the courage of his convictions and volunteered in order to declare himself as a Conscientious Objector. He spent several months in the CO camp in Mancus, Colorado. However, after consideration and analysis, he realized that the only right course of action for him to take would be to directly combat the atrocities of the Axis. So, with a different courage but equal conviction, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps (Fifth Fighter Command, Pacific). He was stationed in Fukuoka, Japan, from 1945-6. He was especially proud of having created and operated the Armed Forces Radio Station WLKI, in Fukuoka. It was one of the times of his life that shaped and influenced him significantly.

After the war, his deep love of literature naturally drew him to a career in publishing, which spanned five decades. He started as the Sales and Advertising Manager at the John C. Winston Book Company in Philadelphia. From 1947-54, he was the Advertising and Direct Mail Manager for Trade and Medical at J. B Lippincott Publishing Company. In 1955 he joined Chilton Book Company where he created Chilton’s Trade Department, and purchased Greenburg Press. As the General Manager and Editor-in-Chief, he oversaw the Automobile Repair Manuals, the Theatre World Annual, and the Frontiers of Knowledge Series. He first published Frank Herbert’s ground-breaking science fiction novel, Dune. Charles’ personal library, quite literally, was large enough to sink a house! He particularly loved the works of H.L. Mencken, Mark Twain, and Henry David Thoreau, along with historical biographies, esp. Lincoln, Cromwell, Napoleon, Washington, and Jefferson.

Charles HeinleIn 1962, he started Chilton’s Educational Division, The Center for Curriculum Development (CCD). As the President of the CCD, he became the American distributor for the materials published by the French Ministry of Culture, including Voix et Images de France. He set up workshops that were run nationally for teachers of the new audio-visual materials.

Charles’ interest in foreign-language education led to his meeting Dr. Paul Pimsleur in 1966. This was to be an event that had a most profound effect on his life. Charles immediately recognized that he had discovered a way to truly teach a language. When Dr. Pimsleur was unable to successfully market his courses, he handed them over to Charles, who spent the rest of his life devoted to building the courses from an obscure, unheard-of brand (The Tapeway Series) with four languages to one of today’s most successful language programs in over 50 languages: The Pimsleur Language Programs. Through his passion, charisma, and charm, Charles was a consummate salesman, personality traits that were nowhere more evident than in his lifelong evangelism of the benefits of the Pimsleur Method.

Charles and Beverly Heinle at Walden PondOn December 25th, 1973, at Walden Pond, Charles married Beverly D. Hoffman-Voigt, his partner in both life and business, pursuits which were inseparable for him. Beverly and their two children, Elisabeth Weir and Katherine Perry and sons-in-law, Malcolm Weir and Frank Perry, survive him.

When the CCD was sold to Rand McNally, Charles went with the language courses to Evanston, IL. But as they grew in importance to him, he re-acquired the rights to Pimsleur and started Heinle & Heinle Enterprises, Inc., in Concord.

A Thoreauvian throughout his life, Charles realized one of his life’s dreams when he moved to Concord, Massachusetts. He worked for years on a young-adult novel of Henry’s life, but it remains unfinished. For years he gave personal tours around Walden Pond. He was a President of the Friends of the Concord Public Library, and he oversaw the publication of and wrote the Charles Heinle president Friends of Concord Public LibraryAcknowledgments to the 1978 Revised Edition of Historic Concord: A Handbook of its Story and its Memorial with an Account of The Lexington Fight.

Charles also was very much a Francophile, and he brought his family with him to France for many wonderful adventures. He got into many capers with his dearest friend and business partner in Pimsleur International, Henri Didier. He was also especially fond of Briards (French sheepdogs).

Charles Heinle and Seth GershellThe Pimsleur courses were again sold, this time to International Thompson and the company was relocated to Boston as Heinle & Heinle Publishers. Charles expanded the marketing of the courses internationally and began to sell directly to the public through a leased department at the Harvard Coop: the Cassette Learning Centers. In 1982, he again reacquired the rights to Pimsleur and reestablished Heinle & Heinle Enterprises in Concord, eventually locating the company to 30 Monument Square, where it remains today. In 1997 he opened a recording studio on the premises. Having distributed the courses to bookstores for several years, in 1997 Simon & Schuster purchased the Pimsleur copyright and the Editorial Department. Charles then re-established H&H Enterprises as a Sales & Service Agency to distribute Pimsleur to markets other than bookstores. In 2004, he worked with Audiofy in their distribution of the new bookchip editions. He (semi)-retired in 2006.

Charles and Beverly Heinle walking dogsAlways a dapper, elegant gentleman, Charles was almost never dressed in anything less than a full two- or three-piece suit, regardless of the weather. He also had a fondness for hats, and could usually be spotted in his well-loved and worn “Donegal patch” walking hat or his Russian fur hat in the blustery New England winters. He loved his pets and was often seen walking one of his dogs around town. In the evenings the family’s Burmese cat (first Emery and then Ellery) would curl up in his lap.

In nearly a century of life, Charles packed more than most into his years, witnessing all the major innovations of the 20th century with his characteristic curiosity – everything from the early Model T’s (he retained his fondness for Ford throughout his life), to the first television (he saw the debut first hand at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939), to computers, the internet, and email (which he quite enjoyed, but typed rather in the style of a telegram).

Charles Heinle with daughtersCharles A. S. Heinle was a man of humor and wit, who dedicated his whole life to learning new things and educating himself. A fiercely proud, self-made man, he was a gourmet (with a particular appetite for fine wine, ripe cheeses, and any pie which would hold still long enough), a poet, and a lover of classical music and art. He was a profoundly passionate individual who lived life to the fullest, but was most singularly happy at home in his burgundy leather armchair with his family and pets around him, reading a good book.

An inveterate swearer, Charles was a fantastically creative curser, and his inventive invectives will live on in family legacy. He was also a wonderful storyteller, usually spinning those of the tall tale variety. Stubborn, irascible, and sometimes curmudgeonly, Charles was loyal to a fault, generous, and cared deeply about friends and family. He will be sorely missed by the many people who loved him.
Charles Heinle with family at Christmas
A Memorial Gathering will be held at the Concord Art Association, 37 Lexington Rd., Concord MA on Saturday, August 4th from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.

Concord’s town flag will fly at half-staff on Saturday in recognition of Mr. Heinle’s service to his country in the United States Army Air Corps.

Donations in Mr. Heinle’s memory may be made to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, 34 Washington St., Suite 200 Wellesley Hills, MA 02481.
Charles Heinle

5 Responses to Obituary: Charles A.S. Heinle

  • Mary Green says:

    Little did I know how much influence Charles would have on my life when we met on a summer day in 1980 when he and Beverly hired me to work at their literary agency. He was a great man with big ideas who always had a plan to make them happen. He was a loving husband and father, and a true inspiration to me and to many others. We’ll miss you Charles.

  • Ulrike Rettig says:

    I was deeply saddened to receive Kate’s email with the news that Charles had passed away. For Beverly, Elisabeth, Kate, and all the family and friends this surely must feel like the end of an era!

    I join the many whose life has been indelibly touched by this remarkable man. I well remember the first time I met Charles. It was in early 1986 at the Coop Cassette Center in Cambridge and I was looking for an Italian course for a niece. Pimsleur Italian didn’t exist yet, but within minutes, and using Lesson 5 of the French course, Charles had explained to me the Pimsleur Method. Charles’ vision for Pimsleur courses provided me with the chance to participate for more than two decades in a truly incredible language enterprise. And that was just his “retirement project”!

  • Angie says:

    A beautiful life and story… inspiration to live life to its fullest and take in everything you can around you. Thank you for sharing Elisabeth. My thoughts are with you and your family…may the memories live on forever!

  • Elin Woodger says:

    I have only just discovered the news that Charles passed away two years ago, age 95 – a great age indeed for a great man. It was Charles who gave me my first job when I moved to Massachusetts in September 1979, and though it has been many years since I last saw him, I still think of him often and how grateful I am to him for the education in publishing that he gave me. He was a remarkable man in many ways – some of which I didn’t even know until I read this obituary and John’s and Charlie’s additional comments. My belated but deepest condolences to Beverly and all the family. It has clear that Charles left quite a wonderful legacy.

  • Phil Sauer says:

    Hello! It seems like forever — and in a way, it has been — but you may recall that I used to work for your father as an IT guy in the office/attic in your home in Concord, so many years ago.

    I got to discussing my career with some students the other day and was motivated to do a quick online search for your father afterwards. I have just discovered the news of his passing, and I wish to extend to you my most heartfelt condolences. In my interesting career, I have never worked for any person longer than I did for your father — that says volumes for the respect I had for him. Perhaps more than you will know.

    Also, I have pored over the posts and comments on the site you’ve constructed in his honor, and wish to apologize for participating in an activity that consumed +so much+ of his time back then. I know I had nothing to do with that, but I feel as if I was an accessory to the crime, so to speak.

    Anyway, I wanted to communicate these thoughts while fresh. I hope all is well with you and yours. Please extend my belated condolences to your sister and your mother as well.

    Kind regards… 🙁
    Phil Sauer
    Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

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