William Heffernan, 84

Telephone executive

February 16, 2007

William R. Heffernan, a telephone technology executive who helped introduce touch-tone service in the 1960s, died Tuesday of heart disease at Oak Crest Village. The former Towson resident was 84.

Born and raised in Springfield, Ill., Mr. Heffernan was hired by the old Western Electric Co. in 1941, shortly before he joined the Navy and served in the South Pacific during World War II.

An aerial radar technician, he flew numerous combat missions and survived a plane crash.

After the war, he returned to the telephone equipment manufacturer and was among the first personnel to staff Western Electric's Eastern regional headquarters in Cockeysville, beginning in 1964.

Family members said he worked on a small phone known as the "Princess" and the push-button touch service that replaced the rotary dial. He retired in 1984.

Mr. Heffernan was a past president of St. Brendan's Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and dressed in formal attire, including a top hat, during the annual march in Baltimore's St. Patrick's Day parade.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the chapel at Oak Crest Village, 8801 Walther Blvd., Parkville.

Survivors include two sons, William O. Heffernan of Stevenson and Thomas Heffernan of Monkton; two daughters, Kathleen Flynn of Hockessin, Del., and Colleen Burke of Joplin, Mo.; 10 grandchildren; and a great-grandson. His wife of 49 years, the former Catherine "Kay" O'Malley, died in 1996.

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