Lifecycles | Obituaries | Post-Its

Of Blessed Memory: Elliott Heiman

Dr. Elliott Heiman passed away April 7, 2024, after a valiant battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 85.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sandy; his daughters Pamela Heiman (children Rebecca and Shira), and Andrea (Adam) Kahn (children Tzivia, Yaakov Meir (Nechama) Kahn, and Basya (Shmaryahu) Collins, one great grandchild (Miriam) and sister, Barbara Steiner.

Dr. Heiman’s life epitomized a life well-lived. He was beloved by his family, admired as a psychiatrist and esteemed as an artist. Elliott was born in 1938 in Philadelphia to Frances and Meyer Heiman. He attended Central High School, Haverford College, where he fenced foil and was a mid-Atlantic champion, and Jefferson Medical School. He completed a psychiatric residency at the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital.

Elliott served in Saigon during the Vietnam war. In addition to evaluating the mental health of soldiers, he volunteered in a Catholic orphanage working with children to determine their developmental level. He also worked with Vietnamese psychiatrists with whom he became friends, later saying that mental illness is the same in all parts of the world.

Following the year in Vietnam, he took a postdoctoral fellowship in Community Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine before moving, with his family, to Tucson in 1970 to become part of the new medical school. He said that when he called the University to arrange for an interview, he was told it was closed for rodeo. He decided then it was the perfect new frontier he was looking for.

Dr. Heiman was part of the medical school for 20 years. He also served as the coordinator of the psychiatric program at El Rio Neighborhood Health Center, was psychiatric consultant at La Frontera and Cochise Community Counseling Services and medical director of Carondelet Behavioral Health Services. He published 34 papers and received many awards including the Family Empowerment Award given by AMISA (Association for the Mentally Ill of Southern Arizona). He served on the planning board of the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health and was president of the Arizona Psychiatric Society.

Elliott’s works of art mirrored his life. Following his mind’s images from his youth, through his days in medical school ( often seen through the patients’ eyes), through the many vignettes of his marriage, and onward to his daughters and grandchildren, Elliott expressed his feelings with a paintbrush. He had several exhibits in Tucson. Close friends and relative strangers found a good listener and a kind response when they engaged Elliott. He was erudite without being preachy, had a dry sense of humor, never at anyone’s expense, and was supportive of his family’s hopes and dreams. He and Sandy loved to travel, pursuing opportunities to explore and expand their horizons.