1948 - 2020
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June 10, 1948 -
February 8, 2020
Marc William Heft died Saturday, February 8 at his longtime home in Gainesville, Florida. Born in 1948 to Jayne and Harold Heft, Marc grew up in Lynbrook, New York, the younger brother of Samuel and older brother of Philip. He received his B.S. in electrical engineering (1970) and D.M.D. (1974) from the University of Pennsylvania, and his M.A. (1981) and Ph.D. (1982) in psychology from the American University. After completing a general practice residency at the Baltimore City Hospitals, he was appointed to the Neurobiology & Anesthesiology Branch, National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, and later to the Laboratory of Behavioral Sciences, Gerontology Research Center, National Institute on Aging, prior to his appointment to the faculty of the University of Florida in 1984.
His 35 years at the UF College of Dentistry saw a shift early on from the Department of Community Dentistry & Behavioral Science to the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (1987). Director since 1989 of the Claude D. Pepper Center for Oral Health in Aging, the focus of Marc's research and scholarship was aging, including sensory aging and health services research; and pain, including measurement, impact and disparities in care. A member of the McKnight Brain Institute, he also held appointments as Professor in the Department of Neuroscience, UF College of Medicine, and in the Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, UF College of Public Health and Health Professions. He was awarded a University Term Professorship in 2017.
An active member of professional and research bodies of national and international scope, Marc tirelessly advocated for oral health and oral health research, particularly through leadership positions in recent years: he served as President of the International Association for Dental Research (2015-2016), for which he was also Chair and Member of the Board of Directors; and President of the American Association for Dental Research (2007-2008). He was a Fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and at the Gerontological Society of America, in recognition of his record of research and scholarship. The list of his publications and achievements is long, and it gave him joy to attend professional and scientific meetings on five continents, delivering research presentations and lectures, and avidly participating in discussions with his peers. Marc placed great importance on mentoring students and younger colleagues in his field, and made this a consistent priority over the years. He also served the broader University of Florida community though involvement in governance activities, serving as Faculty Senate Chair and Member of the UF Board of Trustees in 2013-2014.
Marc loved his family immensely: his wife of 45 years, Ann Gary Heft; his children, Adrienne Heft, Sara Heft and Jordan Heft, and daughter-in-law Jessica Heft; and his young grandchildren, Caleb and Malia Heft, are grieving his loss, as are other family members and cherished friends. His kindness, his thoughtful, inquisitive mind, his boundless energy on the tennis court, and the twinkle in his eye will be dearly missed.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at Congregation B'nai Israel, 3830 NW 16th Blvd, Gainesville with Rabbi David Kaiman officiating. Burial will follow in B'nai Israel Cemetery, at the corner of East University Avenue and Waldo Road.
Marc would have liked for condolences to be expressed in the form of donations to the American Cancer Society, 2119 S.W. 16th Street, Gainesville, FL 32608. Please visit his memorial page at

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Published in Gainesville Sun from Feb. 11 to Feb. 12, 2020.
Funeral service
11:00 AM
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11 entries
March 17, 2020
Wonderful colleague and friend.We will miss him and all the great work he did.
Tina Papas
February 15, 2020
Learned only today, with great sadness, that my former dental school professor had passed. Dr. Heft was well-liked by his students and was always willing and available to assist them in any way he could. Ran into him, a while back, at UFCD, and was fortunate to spend a few minutes catching up. Sleep well, Marc.
Marc Cauchon
February 14, 2020
You made working for you fun! I laughed every day. Thank you! You will be missed Dr. Heft.
February 13, 2020

Dr. M W Heft was a wonderful person, professional, scientist and a researcher. I had the opportunity to be associated with him as a post-doctoral fellow 1989-1993 in one of his NIH program grants for which he was the Director and the Principal Investigator at the University of Florida. He was very kind and effective in his professional approaches.

He was very kind to me personally and took personal interest in me to ensure my personal continuation at the University of Florida after the tenure of the NIH grant. I owe a deep sense of gratitude to him for his timely help and intervention when I needed most at Gainesville, FL

The loss of someone so close is difficult to bear. We share the grief with the family.

May his soul rest in peace. May the Almighty give his family strength and peace to bear the loss.
Gopal Rajakumar
February 13, 2020
A very kind and quiet man whom I am so blessed to have known my entire 24 years with UFCD. I will miss seeing him in the halls during the lunch hour. God is faithful dear family to see you through this difficult time. But be encouraged, he is now in the best of care, absent from the body, but present with the Lord. Hallelujah!!!
Tara Miller
February 12, 2020
Dear Ann, We are so sorry to hear of Marc's passing. He was such a kind and compassionate person who gave so much of himself to everyone. We send our thoughts and prayers to you your family....Meredith and Albert Bacharach
Meredith Bacharach
February 11, 2020

I am so sad hearing about Marc's passing. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed watching him play tennis at The 300 Club. The membership will miss him terribly. He sure did have a nice twinkle in his eyes. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Bobbie Mehan
February 11, 2020
Many condolences to the family of Dr. Marc Heft. A truly remarkable man - who always had a smile and never forgot a name. I worked with Dr. Heft in the late 1990s and continued to pass him the hallways of the dental tower after I changed positions. Dr. Heft never forgot my name, never failed to stop and chat and never ever failed to smile and say hello. I will miss seeing him in the hallway and hope that he rests in peace.
Edra Ijames
February 11, 2020
I owe so much to Marc for all of his mentoring, counseling, and friendship ever since he hired me at the University of Florida in 1989. He was directly responsible for much of my career success and the meaning it all added to my life. He always seemed to know exactly when to offer advice, and he always offered it unselfishly. He remained ready and unselfish even after I moved to Birmingham in 2000. In addition to being an outstanding mentor, he was always a colleague and friend on whom I could count.

Because my office at UF was only a few feet from his, I had the unique opportunity to realize that his unselfishness extended to many, many others. He was always ready to offer help and advice, especially to junior faculty or staff who oftentimes sorely needed it, even for those times when they did not actually realize that they needed it. Few people knew of the extent to which he would extend a helping hand or the breadth of people to whom he would offer it - because he never let others know and to my knowledge he was never formally recognized for it. I only knew because he and I worked on so many activities together and especially because my office was next to his, such that I could easily observe it without any publicity' from him.

I am reminded of the Jimmy Stewart movie that plays every year during the December holidays called It's a wonderful life. Jimmy Stewart's character eventually came to realize that through all of the little things that he did throughout his life, his life ultimately made a huge difference. They could have made that movie about Marc! Although Marc also did many big things and made many big accomplishments, I suspect that all of the many little things that he did to help people ultimately made as much impact. We will him so much.

Please let Adrienne, Sara and Jordan know of my sentiments and that their father had such a positive, other-centered impact on so many of his colleagues and friends.

With deepest sympathy,
Gregg Gilbert
Birmingham, AL
February 11, 2020
Ann, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
February 11, 2020
I am very sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. Heft. The world lost a kind person and the medical/research world lost a brilliant man. May he live on in the memories of the many people he touched during his short life on earth. Thinking of his family. Peace and Love.
marsha harben
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