Broker and a Fixer
Whenever H. Joseph Heller felt strongly that he should do something, he went out and did it. That's how he ended up owning a yellow turn-of- the-last-century farmhouse on a hilly acre in Ridgefield, Conn., a house that his wife, Mary Jean, calls "a major fixer-upper."
Mr. Heller, a commodities broker at Carr Futures, saw the potential in the house and set about restoring it himself. He installed new woodwork, nailed in the window trim, hung the doors, replaced the stair rails. Even when the outside needed a coat of paint, he climbed a ladder with a brush in his hand and did the job. He was self-taught, with only some Time-Life books and television to help him. And, of course, his wife. "We watched a lot of Bob Vila on TV," Mrs. Heller said.
The house became home for the Hellers and their four children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 16 months. The only part Mr. Heller, 37, did not build was the new wing put on a few years ago, which included enormous windows ‹ his idea ‹ that frame the view of trees and old stone walls. "So much of him is right here," Mrs. Heller said. "He fell in love with this house and convinced me. I never really fell in love with it until it started taking shape. He was the one who had the vision."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 18, 2001.