Medical 05

David Bernhardt Heller, M.D.

June 10, 1924 ~ July 22, 2023 (age 99) 99 Years Old


David Bernhardt Heller, M.D. of Highland, North Carolina passed away peacefully at the age of 99 on July 22, 2023, at his home with his wife Mercedes Heller, at his bedside. He was the son of The Reverend Robert Bernhardt Heller and Helen Bitzer Heller and was born in Vermillion, Ohio on June 10, 1924. He is survived by son, David B. Heller Jr. (Barney) and daughter-in-law Karen of North Wales, Pennsylvania, stepdaughter, Perianne Bates of Athens, Ohio, son-in-law, Frank Seta of Cincinnati, Ohio, and 6 grandchildren, Douglas Heller (Amanda) of Ganesvoort, NY, Gregory Heller (Marissa) of Houston, Texas, Elaina Heller Rosenquist (James) of Pittsburgh, PA, Christa Seta Kursmark (Matt) of New York, NY, Louis Seta (Eleanor) of Cincinnati, Ohio and Evan Bates of Hollywood, Florida; and 9 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Ruth Kennedy Heller, step-daughter, Julie Seta and stepson, Jeffrey Dean Bates.

In his earlier life he was a talented athlete, musician and student at both high school in Bloomsburg, PA and at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa, where he graduated with honors in pre-medical studies.  While in pre-med school he played professional football with the Philadelphia Eagles to earn money for his schooling.  He then attended Thomas Jefferson University Medical School in Philadelphia graduating in 1947 at age 22 years old.  After serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII, he remained in the Naval Reserve and was called back into active service during the Korean War serving 2 years in Japan in a Navy Hospital where the severely wounded servicemen were flown in by helicopter for extensive surgical treatment.

On returning from Japan, he completed a 5-year residency in Orthopedic Surgery at a combined residency program with Yale University and Harvard University.  Upon completion of his residency years,he went into private practice in Dayton, Ohio, where he practiced for 40+years.  During that time on two occasions, he traveled to England to study with Dr. Charnley who developed the total hip replacement.  On his return to Dayton, he performed the first total hip replacement in Ohio and one of the first in the United States. A true pioneer in reconstructive joint replacement, he then devoted most of his orthopedic practice to reconstruction and became the Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Wright State University Medical School.

Despite his success in his career, he remained a humble man, loving father and husband, and much of his medical practice served the underprivileged, especially children with orthopedic problems.  He will be missed by his family and friends.

The family wishes to thank Four Seasons Hospice for their care for the past year.  A special thanks to Robert Doe who was a very compassionate caregiver and became a trusted friend.

The family request that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust or to the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, August 5th at 10:30 am at the Church of the Incarnation in Highlands. 

Online condolences may be made at

Bryant-Grant Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Heller family.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of David Bernhardt Heller, M.D., please visit our floral store.

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know David Bernhardt Heller, M.D.?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor David's memory.


Celebration of Life
August 5, 2023

10:30 AM
Episcopal Church of Incarnation (NC)


© 2023 Bryant - Grant Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility