Kevin Vincent Heffernandevoted spouse of David Biele, beloved brother, uncle, and godfather, loving friend to too many and best friend of his lucky canine companion Pennydied April 25 of esophageal cancer. He was 43.
Educated in Catholic schools from elementary through graduate school, Kevin graduated from the University of Notre Dame, with a B.A. in English and theology. A proud gay alumnus, Kevin was an active member of its Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association, serving as its president for many years ; additionally, he was recently given its Distinguished Alumni Award for his years of service to the group. Kevin also earned a M.A. in educational leadership and policy from Loyola University and had begun a doctoral program at DePaul University when he withdrew to focus on his health.
Before retiring in December, Kevin spent 10 years working for the American Medical Association in Chicago, most recently serving as its director of educational services. Kevin was also a longtime member of the Illinois Alliance for Continuing Medical Education, serving the group in a variety of leadership roles, including as its president.
For nearly 20 years, Kevin was a proud member of the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus ( CGMC ), which served as a perfect outlet for his lifelong love of show tunes, particularly those of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Earlier this year, in recognition of his encyclopedic knowledge and deep affection for all things Sondheim, Kevin was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in Sondheimology by Sondheim himself. Along with the signed diploma, presented to Kevin at a gathering of family and friends in January, Sondheim included a note to his husband, David, that read, "I am enormously touched by your letter, and I blush with flattery of your gift to him."
At Kevin's wake, a CGMC ensemble sang some of his Sondheim favorites, including "Old Friends." The chorus had already sung this song to Kevin once beforeduring a rehearsal for the group's upcoming show. The chorus called Kevin, who was already gravely ill, and all 100+ members sang to him over the phone in a powerful show of brotherhood and support.
Kevin's funeral Mass was held at Old St. Patrick's Church, with music overseen by Patrick Sinozich, CGMC's former artistic director. CGMC sang Sondheim's "No One Is Alone." Pals Mark Sherman and Perry Simmons joined longtime friend Lillian Murphy as soloists. Along with David, dear friends Michael Curran, Ryan Koshar, Russ Martin, Jason Ott, Tim Shields, Michael McGarry and Tim Ryan served as pallbearers.
In a life full of honors and recognition, Kevin received one more the week before he passed when his friends at CGMC announced they were dedicating their upcoming production"We're Still Here," a celebration of Sondheim's musicto Kevin. Kevin was often heard to say, "Friends are the family you choose." As all who loved him knew, Kevin had chosen wisely and well.
Friends have created a GoFundMe account to help defray the medical and funeral costs. It can be found at www.gofundme.com/kevinheffernan .