November 09, 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 on November 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 advisor, a 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. 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, and we will miss him profoundly."
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1963, Heyman went to work for the United States Department of Justice and he later served as an assistant United States Attorney for the District of 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 Corporation, which 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 companies he bought rather than stripping them down or selling them for quick profit.
Heyman’s community activities included service on the boards of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law/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 former board member of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Much of Heyman’s recent philanthropy has been focused on his interest in advancing government service. In November 1999, he announced a gift of $5 million to the Harvard Law School for the establishment of an innovative program designed to encourage Harvard Law School graduates to enter federal government service upon graduation from law school. He subsequently created similar fellowship programs at Yale Law School and Seton Hall School of Law. In September 2001, Heyman founded, with a gift of $45 million, the Partnership for Public Service in Washington to address the need for reform in government service. He was serving as the partnership’s chairman at the time of his death.
Among the numerous other philanthropic interests supported by Heyman and his wife, Ronnie Feuerstein Heyman, are: The Samuel & Ronnie Heyman Center on Corporate Governance at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, at Yeshiva University; The Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C.; The Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Center for Ethics, Public Policy and the Professions, at the Sanford Institute at Duke; Heyman Commons, the kosher dining hall at Yale; the Yale Tennis Facility; and the Heyman Chair in Legal Ethics at Yale Law School
In addition to his wife, Heyman is survived by his mother, Annette Heyman of Palm Beach, Fla.; four children, Lazarus Heyman, Eleanor Propp, Jennifer Millstone ’05 (married to David Millstone ’05) and Elizabeth Winter; and nine grandchildren.