George Heesen passed away at his Santa Barbara home early in the morning of Nov. 18, 2011.
Born to John and Audreey Heesen of Pomona in November 1955, Heesen graduated with a degree in animal science from Cal Poly Pomona.
Shortly thereafter, he moved to Santa Barbara, where he began a 27-year career with the YMCA. Heesen’s commitment to the Y’s mission infused every task, particularly those toughing Santa Barbara’s youth. He excelled at getting things done and getting them done right.
During a trip to India in 1984, Heesen met his wife, Gayatri Chopra. The devotion, profound support and wonderful humor pervading their relationship has prompted continuous personal growth. His wife has become a well-regarded acupuncturist, and Heesen was forever finding broader ways to contribute to the Santa Barbara community.
The birth of their son, Rohun, in 1991 took Heesen into Indian Guides and Math Superbowl coaching. Gayatri and Rohun learned to share Heesen’s love of the Eastern High Sierras, fly-fishing, canoeing and skiing, all things he had inherited from his own father.
Recently, Heesen and his son restored a bug-eye Austin Healy Sprite, which has won multiple awards and been featured, together with their special father-son relationship, in national auto restoration publications.
Heesen is survived by his wife, son, mother, three brothers and extended families in India as well as the United States. He and his family also have countless dear friends on both continents, including the Ristig family, Kate Wallace, Doug Clegg and Jan Millar.
There will be a celebration of Heesen ’s life at 5 p.m. Dec. 9 at First United Methodist Church, 305 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.