I first met Dr. Henry Heimlich, or “Hank”, shortly after I arrived at the University of Cincinnati. To my surprise, he had expressed a strong interest in meeting me, so I eagerly invited him to join me for dinner at my home, along with Associate Dean Emeritus Steve Marine, the libraries’ Director of Development Christa Bernardo and our respective spouses. It was then that I learned of his time as a surgeon with the US Naval Group in World War II. Hank had been stationed in China, and his first stop was my hometown of Chongqing.
Over the course of the evening, we discussed his time in China and I shared some of my memories growing up in Chongqing. I showed him pictures online of the transformational changes that had occurred in the city over time. It was evident to me that, through his experiences both during the war and later in life, he had developed a strong connection to China and its people. As I would later read in his book, Heimlich’s Maneuvers, he strongly believed that “if the United States and China were to see each other as partners in giving back together, we will be on our way to being a caring world.”
I met with Hank several more times over the past few years to discuss UC’s partnership with Chongqing University, the Joint Co-Op Institute (JCI), and other China initiatives happening at UC. His relationship with the library was a strong one- the Henry J. Heimlich Archival Collection is housed at the Winkler Center in the Harrison Health Sciences Library. His memoir is also available in the UC Library catalog.
I am glad I was able to meet him; I feel as if I have lost a close friend. I plan to continue honoring his memory and be a good custodian of his life’s work.