Max Arthur Heirich
1931 - 2017
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Heirich, Max Arthur 5/13/1931 - 4/27/2017 Ann Arbor, Michigan Max Arthur Heirich, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Michigan, left us April 27th, 2017 at the age of 85 after a long illness that included cancer and heart disease. He was known to many in the Ann Arbor community for his teaching, social activism, and work in alternative medicine. His academic work encompassed the sociology of religion, social movements, and healthcare. He was a longtime member of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting. Max will be remembered as an inspired spiritual seeker by those who knew him and by the many people whom he helped. Born the son of Charles and Virginia Heirich in Aurora IL on May 13, 1931, Max grew up in Muskogee, OK. His early life was strongly influenced by a passionate in-depth study of the Bible. He trained as a youth minister and after high school he entered the College of Emporia (Kansas) with the intention of becoming a minister. He transferred to Earlham College, a Quaker school in Richmond IN, graduating in 1953. During these Korean War years Max became the first conscientious objector in the history of his hometown, Muskogee, and served his Alternative Service teaching at Warren Wilson College in Asheville North Carolina. As a staff member of the American Friends Service Committee for 6 years (College Secretary) Max visited campuses--primarily in the south-eastern states--raising questions with students about war, peace, and race relations. In this role he was present at the founding of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960 and worked with prominent activists in the civil rights movement including Ella Baker and Martin Luther King Jr. These years contributed to his life-long passionate involvement in defense of social justice and a deep personal identification with the African-American community. In 1960 Max entered graduate school in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. While he was planning to focus on social change the 1964 Free Speech Movement erupted and this became his dissertation topic. This work became a book, "The Spiral of Conflict: Berkeley 1964", that remains the most authoritative documentary account of those events. In 1967 he joined the University of Michigan Sociology department. Until his retirement from the University of Michigan in 1999 Max was a respected and popular teacher in the Residential College as well as in the Sociology Department. Max co-founded the interdisciplinary UM Health Policy Forum and for twenty years held adjunct appointments with the University of Michigan Medical School where he taught courses in patient-doctor relations and comparative medicine. He worked with the Worker Health Program at the University's Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations where he designed, implemented, and evaluated the effectiveness of programs for disease prevention and health promotion in the workplace. He served as consultant to NIH's Complementary and Alternative Medicine Advisory Board and to the Obama administration White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. He co-authored congressional testimony given by the American Friends Service Committee in support of the Affordable Care Act. In 1971 Max developed a disabling health condition. As part of his recovery he began to practice Hatha Yoga through the YMCA, a practice that he continued for the rest of his life. These yoga contacts led to learning Polarity Therapy, an energy healing method based on the Eastern concept of Chi. Max introduced this therapy to Ann Arbor where it continues to be well represented in the alternative medicine community. He spent many years working with recovering addicts in inner city Detroit where Polarity Therapy provided a low cost treatment for their symptoms. In the 1980s he founded the Positive Living Network in Detroit which provided alternative healthcare treatments to individuals with HIV and AIDS. As a result of his Hatha yoga practice Max began to have powerful meditation experiences. In order to understand these experiences he began to meet eastern spiritual teachers. He spent a year's sabbatical apprenticing to non-Western healers and in 1985 one of those teachers took him to her native India on a tour of the Himalayas. These experiences led him to refocus his academic life with an intention to bring Western and non-Western understandings of reality into a more dynamic interchange. In retirement Max refused to give up his calling to make the world a better place. After many years of trying to influence health-care decision makers he turned to seeking better living alternatives and health care for the elderly. His last years were spent mobilizing groups to promote renewable energy at a local and statewide level. Max will be remembered for his unfailing ability to make friends everywhere he went, his passion for music, and his love of terrible puns. He lived his life from the heart. He is survived by his children and their spouses: Douglas Heirich of Palo Alto, California and his daughters Kyra and Marissa; Alan Heirich of Half Moon Bay, California and his children Laura, Nicole and John; Julia Heirich of St. Oyens, Switzerland and her daughters Helena and Camille; Deborah Maddox of Chicago IL and her daughters Charlotte and Clara; by his former wife Jane Ruby Heirich, his cat Zima, as well as many, many, dear friends. A memorial will take place on Saturday May 27 at 10 am at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Road in Ann Arbor.

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Published in Ann Arbor News from May 2 to May 4, 2017.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
MAY
27
Memorial Gathering
10:00 AM
MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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17 entries
April 26, 2019
I still miss him; especially when I'm in his old neighborhood near north campus.
Eric Halbeisen
Friend
April 26, 2019
I still remember max as a passionate,caring and loving man and a great teacher.
Charles Garvin
Friend
February 17, 2018
Dearest Max, your pure heart & gentle spirit,& warmest of friendship,will live in our hearts and minds forever, with deepest love & gratitude- Donald H. Hosmer III, James Edward Lipinski & in memorium Arthur Ray Hussey (1939-1994)
Donald Hammond Hosmer III
May 27, 2017
Always a kind soul, wonderful humanitarian, and good friend.
Walter Slater
May 24, 2017
Max was a kind and gentle soul with a passion for social justice. I will miss him.
Brandy Sinco
May 17, 2017
I was sadden to hear about the loss to your family. I have found much comfort in the promises found at Psalm 102:17. May you find comfort and hope in the promises in God's word as well.
May 16, 2017
I came to know Max through my sister at the Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations and through the Ann Arbor Friends meeting. My work in the holistic field is easier because of the impact he had on Michigan. I'm sorry I did not see him in the later years and so sorry for those who were closer to lose a dear friend or father.
Kathleen Strauch
May 13, 2017
We learned from the best. May you rest in peace, light, and love.
Kathi Smith
May 6, 2017
Max was a source of continued intellectual and spiritual inspiration to me. One of my first mentors whose powerful influence and far reaching accomplishments was belied by his humble and gracious demeanor. His work in civil rights, social justice and holistic health showed a deep sense of respect for humanity and unwavering belief in the best of people. My condolences to his family.
Andrew Heyman
May 5, 2017
As one of Max's many housemates over the years, I feel a deep and abiding sense of friendship with Max and the others who shared "our" home. Highlights that we often laughed about included the appearance in my room of a sleepy skunk, a snake that found its way into a small, eye-level hole above the kitchen sink, and various ridiculous (in hindsight) crises involving our former significant others. We had many enjoyable dinners and wide-ranging conversations about our travels and our work. Max was always quick and on point with advice about our personal and professional dilemmas, and always managed to find a way to help us think "outside the box." His sense of the human spirit in its many manifestations -- some quite unusual -- was a persistent reminder to keep an open mind. Max, I'm not going to say I miss you, since I know you're out there somewhere...
Helen Fox
May 4, 2017
I will forever have such amazing memories of Max. He was not only one I tried to help with his health, but one who taught me much as well. I hope that he now has eternal peace.
Steve Bednarski
May 4, 2017
A stunning man. I was so proud to know him and serve him as a member and client of our organization at EHM Senior Solutions. Truly a profound loss for society. Blessings and comfort to the entire family as you mourn a great man.
Pamela Olah
May 4, 2017
An extraordinary, wonderful and utterly dear man, but we all know that.

It has been such a privilege to be with him, and to be profoundly influenced by both his example and his teachings.

We will continue to meditate together, then stand up and help the world be better.

All my love
Sahm
May 3, 2017
So sorry for your loss.
May God comfort you.
~Psalms 71:21
May 3, 2017
I have known max for many years and have deep respect for him. He gave something important to everyone he knew. He was a great citizen and teacher and fighter for social justice. He loved and was loved His legacy is great. Not many pass through this life who have given so much to so many.
Charles Garvin
May 3, 2017
We will be with you in spirit in the weeks and months ahead.
Eric Halbeisen
May 2, 2017
Heirich family, I'm so saddened with your loss. Your dad was an amazing person and really helped define Ann Arbor. He was an amazing adult when I was a child and all the more impressive once I'd grown and could appreciate his contributions to our culture.
Marci Woolson
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