Hedda and Heimo Langer had a love that took them halfway around the world and made them inseparable for more than half a century.
An internationally renowned chemist, Dr. Heimo Langer devoted his life to studying, teaching, researching and inventing. Raised in Seckau, Austria, his teaching career started in 1948 as a teaching assistant at the Technical University of Vienna where he pursued his master’s degree. Just four years later, he and Hedda fell in love while taking a ballroom dancing class. In 1965 – the same year he and Hedda got married – they immigrated to Canada, where Heimo served as a teaching assistant at the University of Calgary while completing his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry.
“We had been dating for six or so years, then one of his professors in Vienna was on sabbatical in Calgary,” said Hedda. “He said to some of his favorite students, including Heimo, ‘If you want to do something with your life, you need to go out into the world; don’t just sit there and wait for things to happen.’ So that’s what we did.”
In 1970, Heimo started a long and successful career at the Ashland Chemical Company, and ultimately moved to its location in Dublin, Ohio where he served as a research chemist. In was in Central Ohio that he and Hedda put down roots.
Soon after Heimo passed away in 2017, Hedda wanted to memorialize him in a special way that paid tribute to their 51-year marriage and Catholic faith, and that also would bring together his two passions – Chemistry and education.
So, in 2019, after discussing options with her financial advisor, she made the decision to make a $100,000 gift to Ohio Dominican University through The Catholic Foundation of Ohio to create an endowed fund to provide sustained support to ODU’s chemistry program, with intentions of continuing her support in the future.
“As a chemist and scholar, Heimo often thought about how many more people could be out there in the world who could be better than him if given the opportunity. He was always putting other people ahead of himself. Since he was a chemist, it seemed fitting to support the chemistry program,” said Hedda. “God has always been good to us, so my hope is to further education for students at Ohio Dominican and allow them to reach their full potential.”
ODU President Connie Gallaher says gifts like the Langers’ have an immediate and lasting positive impact on the programs for which they are given, and especially the students they serve.
“The creation of this special endowed fund not only preserves and celebrates the memory of Dr. Langer, it also energizes those in our community who share his passion. We are ever so appreciative and blessed for the Langers’ support,” said Gallaher.
Daniel Little, Ph.D., assistant professor of Chemistry at ODU, says the Langers’ support will help students in the chemistry program continue Heimo’s work of preparing for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
“Our chemistry program works to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to thrive in the competitive and evolving job market, and gifts like the Langers’ are instrumental in allowing us to achieve that. Being able to teach in laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment noticeably enhances the students’ enthusiasm for learning, and I am proud to be part of an institution where members of the community, like Hedda, are engaged with our mission and generously support it however they can.”
Over the course of his life, Heimo was the author or co-author of over 30 patents and was well-respected in the scientific community. In 1991, he was bestowed by the Austrian Government the Honorary Cross for Science and Art 1st Class of the Republic of Austria. That award, along with additional items from his collection, will soon be on display in Battelle Hall, ODU’s science center, to inspire the bright minds of tomorrow.
“He was a scientist, so he felt called to do research and invent things. That was his mission. He was very proud of his work and his career, and I was so proud of all he accomplished,” said Hedda. “I cannot say enough about all the people I’ve met at Ohio Dominican, especially the staff and faculty’s commitment to the university. As I’ve met with them, I’ve asked myself ‘If they are so committed, why can’t I be?’ It makes me feel very good, to be honest. That’s all I can say. I’m so glad I’m able to do this.”
“We are extremely grateful to the Langers’ for their generous gift to Ohio Dominican University and the support they have shown our chemistry program,” said Gallaher. “In addition to supporting the work of our outstanding chemistry faculty each and every day, their generosity has helped to ensure that our students will continue to receive a life-changing education for many years to come.”