ALUMNI

I N  M E M O R I A M

Russell Puzey, a CPA and accounting partner who made a cause of wetland preservation , died on August 2, 1999, in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He was 89. A native of Catlin, Illinois, Mr. Puzey was born into a farming life, but confounded his family's expectations about his future when he announced his decision to attend the University of Illinois. After graduating summa cum laude from the College of Commerce with a BS in accountancy in 1933, he took a job with the Chicago accounting firm of Frazer and Torbet, eventually rising to managing partner.
  He continued in that position after the firm merged with Main La Frentz. In 1939 Mr. Puzey and Sarah Haupt were married. After a few years in Chicago, they moved to Mount Prospect, then later to Inverness, a place Mr. Puzey loved because of its wide open spaces. Concerned that land development was posing a threat to his beloved village, he became involved with the Barrington Area Council of Governments and also ran successfully for the Inverness Village Board. In 1973 he was elected village president, an office he held until 1981. "Probably his greatest legacy is he had the foresight that Inverness needed to expand its borders and protect itself against high-density development," Bill Braithwaite, an old friend of Mr. Puzey, told the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Puzey was also an enthusiastic supporter of the College of Commerce. A long-time member of the Commerce Business Advisory Council, he was a generous contributor to the
 Investors in Business Education Fund, and endowed the Accounting Is Communication Fund, which supports faculty research on the role of communication in accounting. "He was a great Illini," said Bob Frech a fellow alumnus (BS Management '49) and a long-time resident of Inverness where, he said, "Russ will be greatly missed."

Edward Weldon died on June 28, 1999, in Portland, Oregon. He was 74. Mr. Weldon, a long-time resident of Evanston, Illinois, who also lived in Bloomington, graduated from Commerce in 1950 with a BS in management. In World War II he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He enjoyed a long career as Chicago advertising representative for the Philadelphia Enquirer, and also worked in Chicago for Control Data Computer Company.

Roger Mercer of Chesterfield, Missouri, died suddenly on January 28, 1999. A member of the Commerce Class of 1956, he held a BS in accountancy, and was with IBM for the length of his career, serving as a branch manager in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Donald S. Laydan died on May 31, 1999, in Leesburg, Florida. Mr. Laydan graduated from Commerce in 1957 with a BS in accountancy, completing the program in just two and one-half years. A pioneer in developing laser typesetting, he was owner and operator of the company Medical Forms. He is survived by his wife Edna Laydan, two sons, three daughters, and eight grandchildren. Mrs. Laydan writes: "He was always so proud to be a graduate of the U of I. He had a small U of I flag on his golf cart and we have a large one on the patio. He never missed a televised sports game and was waiting for a Rose Bowl game again."

Sandy Dennhardt died on May 2, 1999, of cancer-related pneumonia. A resident of Skokie, Illinois, she is survived by her parents Wally and Vic Dennhardt, who write: "How proud she was of her U of I background." Ms. Dennhardt earned a BS in math in 1966 and an MBA in 1982.

Peter Giles died tragically in Seattle on November 3, 1999, at the age of 27. Mr. Giles, who graduated from Commerce in 1995 with a BS in finance, is remembered as a varsity lacrosse player of talent and distinction. The annual team leadership award, which he won every year he played, was renamed the Pete Giles Award in his honor. It is based on a vote by team members for the player who most consistently gives 100 percent to the team. A native of Libertyville, Mr. Giles spent vacations in Seattle, where his uncles own Northlake Shipyard, on Lake Union. After graduation he went to work full-time at the shipyard. He and a fellow worker were killed by a gunman who wounded two others, then fled.
On the night of October 10, 1999, Matthew Heldman, a Commerce alumnus and former point guard for the Fighting Illini, lost his life in an automobile crash. He was just 23 years old. The accident, which occurred in his hometown of Libertyville, also claimed the life of his father, Otis Heldman, 53, and two others.

Mr. Heldman, who graduated from Commerce in 1998 with a BS in business administration, achieved fame as a Fighting Illini basketball star. A point guard who wore the Number 21 jersey, he excelled at assists, free-throw percentages, and three-point scores, and was instrumental in leading the Illini in 1998 to their first Big Ten title in fourteen years. The records for both the seventh- and eighth-best single-season totals for three-point shots in the university's history belong to Mr. Heldman, who was playfully called "Otis" by his teammates because he had his father's name tattooed on his arm. At the time of his death, he had spent a year playing professional basketball in Finland and Greece, and had also toured with Athletes in Action, a Christian traveling team. While a student at Commerce, he also worked at the Chicago Board of Trade during summer intercession.

News of his sudden and shocking loss appeared in publications throughout the state and the nation, including USA Today, the Chicago Sun Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Coach Lon Kruger told the Chicago Tribune: "I may never have had a player who played as close to his potential as Matt did. He laid it out there every day in practice. Matt always took great satisfaction in preparing and beating people who were more talented. What I'll always remember is the passion he played with."