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Insurance CEO championed kidney foundation

| Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
John Vincent Heher, 63, of Pittsburgh, passed away suddenly Friday, March 8, 2013.

A customer of Liberty Insurance Agency once reported the theft of a $20,000 printer to John Heher.

The printer wasn't covered because there was no break-in, but Mr. Heher, Liberty's CEO, refused to leave the customer in the lurch.

Mr. Heher and his son Kevin discovered the printer on eBay under the account of an employee who stole it. The happy customer got his printer back and fired the thief.

“It wasn't an insurance problem, but because it was a customer who had a problem, my dad did everything possible,” said Kevin Heher of Lawrenceville, who is president of the agency today.

John V. Heher of Presto died Friday, March 8, 2013, of a heart attack while visiting his mother in Elmira, N.Y. He was 63.

Mr. Heher was born in Elmira to Vincent and Eleanor Heher. His father owned a paper company, and his mother taught English and typing at St. Patrick Catholic School. His father died when he was 16, and his mother married Jack Flynn.

Mr. Heher graduated with a bachelor's degree in business from the State University of New York in Albany and worked for insurance agencies. In 1985, he bought Liberty. At the time, the company had one office in Oakland with eight employees and about $5 million in premiums. He expanded the firm to offices in Scott, Jeannette and Cranberry, with 80 employees and $80 million in premiums, his son said.

After years of kidney problems, Mr. Heher took part in the paired giving program. His wife donated a kidney to a stranger, and another stranger donated one to him.

He became a strong supporter of the National Kidney Foundation Serving the Alleghenies. He served on its board and raised $130,000 the past two years for the group. On March 2, he received its Corporate Gift of Life Award.

“When I think of John, I think of genuine, family-oriented, smiling and sweet,” said Erin Tuladzieck, regional development manager for the local chapter of the foundation. “He meant so much for our organization.”

In addition to his son, Kevin, Mr. Heher is survived by his wife, Susan Emery Heher; his mother, Eleanor Heher Flynn of Elmira, N.Y.; son, Michael Heher of Tahoe City, Calif.; and a sister, Mimi Heher of Horseheads, N.Y.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and 1 to 3 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in William Slater II Funeral Service, 1650 Greentree Road in Scott. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Thomas More Church, Bethel Park.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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