Jeffrey Heins, account exec, dies at 62

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

Jeffrey Heins, a longtime automotive account executive for the company that distributes The Detroit News, was known as an intense leader whose engaging personality helped woo advertisers and motivate salespeople.

Mr. Heins, who worked for and its predecessor, the Detroit Media Partnership, for 20 years, died Tuesday, April 21, 2015, after a battle with cancer. He was 62.

"What you see is what you get, when it came to Jeff," said Brian Pratt, his brother-in-law. "Everyone loved him. He was always consistent."

Nicknamed "The Big Kahuna," Mr. Heins was well-liked and highly regarded by his peers, said Joanne Krause, executive director of automotive sales at The company oversees business functions for The News and the Detroit Free Press.

"Jeff was the nicest guy. He loved what he did and was very inspiring," she said. "At the end of every sales meeting, he would get everyone fired up with one of his pep talks. He was also a former President's Club winner, which was a reflection of his many contributions to our company."

A fan of anything Detroit and all Detroit sports teams, Mr. Heins transformed his garage into a "man cave," a favorite gathering place for his many friends and family members.

"There was never a mic that didn't like Jeff," Pratt said teasingly.

"He was our spiritual and family leader. He always led the prayer for family dinners and functions."

Working in a field that thrives on innovation and creativity, Mr. Heins kept abreast of the latest information in the auto industry.

"He was always first to let everyone know about new trends or big changes. He was a real team player," Krause said.

"His customers loved and respected him."

In his free time, Mr. Heins was an avid gardener, a drummer and singer, and even an amateur meteorologist.

"Chef Jeff is what we called him, too," Pratt said.

"He was an amazing cook. He was everything."

Even after being diagnosed with cancer, Mr. Heins did not cower in a corner.

"He hated that cancer as much as we did and he battled it best he could," Pratt said. "He fought with dignity."

Mr. Heins is survived by his wife of 30 years, Cindy; his children, Kevin, Sarah Schaible and Emily Heins; parents, Paul and Claire Heins; brother, Rick; sister, Christine Thomas; and two grandchildren.

His funeral is at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Joseph Catholic Church, 830 S. Lafayette, South Lyon.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Motor City Lyric Opera, 214 Madison Ave., Box 3, Detroit, MI 48226.