It is with great sadness that the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College reports the death of Regina Best Heldrich, Class of 1942, who passed away peacefully on February 4, 2014. She was 92.
Through her profound generosity and leadership, Regina provided vision to Douglass College and her alumnae with tireless devotion. Together with her husband, John J. Heldrich UCNB ’50, a former longtime Johnson & Johnson executive who survives her, Regina regularly attended the Douglass Scholarship Dinner and other events on campus and was a stalwart supporter of women’s education. She was a woman of grace and vision. She stayed closely connected with classmates and was a leader in planning their milestone fiftieth reunion and induction into the Vanguard Fifty Society. She received the Douglass Medal in recognition of her dedication to Douglass, among numerous awards from the Rutgers and New Brunswick communities.
As a student at the then New Jersey College for Women (NJC), Regina majored in chemistry. She recounted over the years that her lifelong interest in science sparked from the inspiration she found in the biography of pioneering physicist and chemist Marie Curie. She went on to a rewarding career both in chemical laboratories and in corporate administration. She was a trailblazer in fields where women are still underrepresented.
Through the AADC, she created The Regina Best Heldrich Science Endowment for Douglass to inspire the next generation of women in science and provide funding for the Douglass Project for Women in Math, Science, and Engineering, and to support Douglass students with science research grants in programs offered through Project SUPER (Science for Undergraduates: A Program for Excellence in Research). She also established the Regina Best Heldrich Scholars Endowment Fund for Chemistry Majors, which provides scholarships for Douglass students majoring in chemistry, based on academic promise and need.
She was a lead contributor to the current Campaign for Douglass, the most ambitious in our history, that will endow the unique programs and opportunities Douglass provides and will help to build a new living-learning residence hall on the Jameson Campus. Her generosity also had provided in the previous capital campaign for the restoration of the 80-year-old Chemistry Building, which now bears her name, on the Douglass College campus. This building received not only much needed maintenance, but state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, making it one of the most technologically up-to-date facilities at Rutgers University and one she herself cherished. It will continue to serve students at Douglass and Rutgers University, helping them achieve at the highest levels in the sciences.
Her participation during the Save Douglass College advocacy campaign made an important statement and helped positively change the course of events to ensure a strong future for Douglass today. Regina’s support of Douglass at pivotal moments, both as a benefactor and thoughtful advisor with a powerful vision, defines a legacy whose impact will long be felt.
“This has been a sad week for the Douglass community. Regina was a humble and giving woman whose generosity and devotion to Douglass will make a positive impact on generations of Douglass women to come. Her name will live on as an inspiration to everyone who is passionate about women’s education and leadership, particularly in the sciences,” shares Tina Gordon ’72, AADC Board President.
“Regina’s tenacity, brilliance and extraordinary character will be profoundly missed and we are grateful for her vision and commitment to Douglass and our sisterhood,” comments AADC Executive Director Valerie Anderson ’81.
The AADC offers our deepest condolences to her husband, daughter Regina H. Stem, son John J. Heldrich Jr., daughter-in-law Renee Heldrich Michaud, and their families, on the loss of our beloved Douglass sister, friend and supporter.