Santa Clara Magazine is published in print for alumni and friends of the University. It is updated weekly on the web.
Christopher Nielsen Heard J.D. ’78, of Sacramento, Calif., a successful attorney, dedicated psychologist, beloved father and grandfather, passed away on June 17, 2014.
Chris was born to the late Lawrence Nielsen Heard and the late Betty Ann Heard on October 29, 1950 at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, Calif. He was the oldest son and second child for the couple. In 1969, Chris married Melody Benevento and had his first daughter, Felicia. While working and raising a family, Chris continued his education at the University of San Francisco, from which he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1974 with degrees in Philosophy and Theology. He went on to further his education at Santa Clara University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Juris Doctor in 1978.
Chris began his career in the law in the Santa Clara district attorney’s office where he enjoyed an unprecedented record of successes. He remained a dedicated public servant throughout his career, always fighting for the underdog and ensuring that justice was served. In July of 1981, Chris and Melody welcomed their second daughter, Briana. He went on to be a gubernatorial appointee during the Deukmejian administration as well as serving in other distinguished capacities within the California State government. In addition to his academic and professional pursuits, Chris was a fitness enthusiast. He was a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, competing in several triathlons and serving as an unpaid personal trainer to many throughout the years. His daughter Briana has followed in his footsteps, competing in the New York City Marathon and continuing to challenge herself physically and mentally.
Not content to rest on his laurels and eager to make a further contribution to society, Chris went back to school later in life to receive his PhD. in Psychology after which he carved out a distinguished career in forensic psychology. His accumulation of post-graduate degrees inspired his three grandsons to lovingly call him "Dr. Grandpa." Chris was more than the sum of his parts. He was a true renaissance man who never stopped being a student. His love of learning extended to music and dance. He began piano and dance lessons very late in life. Chris read voraciously on any and all topics and was fairly well versed in everything from world history to criminal theory.
Chris was taken from his family far too soon and will be missed by his loving daughters, Felicia Marie Geller and Briana Elizabeth Heard; son-in-law Scott Geller; devoted grandsons Ryan Nielsen, Griffin John and James Powell Geller; his older sister and loving friend Elizabeth Heard Driscoll, brother-in law Gerard Driscoll and their sons Sean, Michael and Matthew; his confidant and younger brother Dr. Geoffrey Stuart Heard and sister-in-law Dr. Christine Heard and their son Kevin Christopher; his sister Lauren Heard and her children Alexandra and Gregory. In addition to his family, Chris leaves behind many close friends and colleagues as well as the countless people he touched during his time here.