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Former U.S. Open Tennis Chair Merv Heller Dead at 65

Funeral services for Merv Heller of Bethlehem are set for August 28 at Central Moravian Church.

Mervin A. Heller Jr. of Bethlehem and formerly of Berks County died on Aug. 21, 2012 at St. Luke's Hospital following a prolonged illness.

Heller was former chair of the U.S. Open tennis competition - one of the most prestigious events in sports.

He was born June 10, 1947, in Reading, Pa., son of the late Mervin A. Heller Sr. and Rachel Turkington.

Mervin will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Jan S. Heller of Bethlehem; daughters: Marnie A. Healey and her husband, Nathan, of Wyomissing, Christina Heller of Los Angeles, CA, Katie Heller of San Francisco, CA, and Jenna Berninger of Baltimore, MD; as well as his grandchildren, Ana and Vieve Healey.

He was preceded in death by his aunt, Lillian Heller.

He will be remembered for his dynamic and passionate personality, the strength and perseverance displayed through adversity and his genuine love of making people happy.

Mervin graduated from East Stroudsburg University (ESU). He played on the school's tennis team and went undefeated in conference matches for his entire four years.

During his years as an ESU student, Mervin was a member of Alpha Chi Fraternity, served as sports editor of the Stroud Courier, created the position of sports information director and founded the Varsity "S" Club.

Upon graduation, he held the school record for career wins in singles and doubles. In 1990, Mervin was inducted into the ESU Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was recognized by his alma mater with the Helen G. Brown Award for his extraordinary professional accomplishments.

Mervin went on to receive his law degree from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law and was President of the law firm of Leisawitz Heller.

Mervin served as Chairman of the Board and President of the United States Tennis Association, completing his two-year term in 2002. He began with the USTA in 1974 as President of the Lehigh Valley District Tennis Association. In 1991, he was first elected to the USTA Board of Directors, serving as its Secretary/-Treasurer in 1993-1994. Then, in 1999, he became Vice President.

He is a former President, Vice President and Section Delegate of USTA Middles States Section. In 1991, he was given the USTA Middle States Mangen Award, an annual award given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the game of tennis in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

He was honored with the USTA/MSTA Media Award in 1995 for his outstanding contributions to tennis through the media. In 1998, Mervin was inducted into the USTA Middle States Hall of Fame.

In 2003, he received the prestigious Samuel Hardy Award from the International Tennis Hall of Fame for long and outstanding service to tennis.

In 1992, Mervin established the Berks County Tennis Association (BCTA), a community tennis association serving his hometown of Reading, as well as the surrounding communities.

In 1999, the Reading Eagle-Times newspaper recognized him as one of the 50 most influential sports figures over the past 50 years in Berks County.

He was inducted into the Berks County Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and in 2009; Mervin was elected to the Berks County chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Mervin was very dedicated to his community and had served for over ten years on the Board of Directors and as legal counsel for the Berks County Chamber of Commerce and was a former Chairman and former Finance Chairman of the Berks County Republican Party.

He was actively involved with numerous charitable organizations, including the Greater Berks Development Fund, the American Heart Association, Leadership Berks, Children's Home of Reading, the American Red Cross, Berks County Chapter, and the Berks Area Reading Transportation Authority.

A visitation will be celebrated on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Connell Funeral Home, 245 E. Broad St., Bethlehem, PA 18018. Another visitation will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, from 1 to 3:45 p.m. with a service to follow at 4 p.m. at the , 73 W. Church St. Bethlehem, PA 18018 (corner of Main and W. Church Streets).

Interment will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, at the Mifflinville Cemetery in Mifflinville, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Greater Reading Economic Partnership, 201 Penn Street, Suite 502, Reading, PA 19601; (610) 376-4237 or Berks County Community Foundation (please memo Berks County Tennis Fund, 237 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601.)

The family encourages friends to visit www.connellfuneral.com to share memories, photos and videos.

The Connell Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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