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Surviving The Holocaust To Pursue The American Dream

May 4, 2023 @ 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

People who are lucky enough to have never been forced to leave their country have no idea of the courage, risk-taking, and pain of those who leave behind family, friends, material possessions, language, and the comfort of home. Acclaimed author, scholar, academician, and Czechoslovak immigrant to the U. S., Dr. Charles Heller will present his story of an extraordinary childhood, and an even more extraordinary adulthood. It is the story of loss and pain, joy and regret, life and growth. It is a truly American story. He will be available for a book signing following the presentation.

Books by Dr. Charles Heller available in our Museum Store:

Prague: My Long Journey Home

Cowboy From Prague

About Dr. Charles Heller:

Charles Ota Heller is the author of four memoirs in English and one in Czech. The former are: Prague: My Long Journey Home; Name-droppings: Close Encounters with the Famous and Near-Famous; Ready, Fire, Aim! An Immigrant’s Tales of Entrepreneurial Terror; and Cowboy from Prague: An Immigrant’s Pursuit of the American Dream.

Dr. Heller was born in Prague, three years before Czechoslovakia was invaded and occupied by Hitler’s Germany. His father escaped and joined the British Army, his mother was taken away to a slave labor camp, and Charlie was hidden on a farm until the war’s end in 1945. Twenty-five members of his family were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Reunited after the war, the three Hellers escaped after the Communist take-over of the country and came to the United States in 1949, following fifteen months in refugee camps.

After high school in New Jersey, Charlie entered Oklahoma State University, where he earned a basketball scholarship and received BS and MS degrees in engineering. After working in the aerospace industry in California and for Bell Labs, he and his wife Sue came to Annapolis, Maryland, where he became one of the co-founders of the aerospace engineering department at the Naval Academy. Soon after he earned a PhD from The Catholic University of America, Dr. Heller was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

He co-founded two software companies—CADCOM and Intercad—and was CEO of both, for the next 18 years. After cashing out, he went to the University of Maryland, where he was Director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship until 2000. That year, he became a venture capitalist, investing in high-tech companies. Today, he is a full-time author and serves on several boards of directors, including the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Walden University.

He has received a number of awards: Maryland’s Entrepreneur-of-the-Year, the Lohmann Medal (OSU’s highest award for engineering graduates), Catholic University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and he was named the first Professor of Practice in the history of the University of Maryland. In 2015, he was inducted into the Oklahoma State University CEAT Hall of Fame.

A widower, Dr. Heller lives in Annapolis. He has one son, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He is a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, Naval Academy Golf Association, Rotary Club of Annapolis, Oklahoma State University’s O-Club, the Authors’ Guild, and Maryland Writers’ Association. He is an avid golfer, skier, sailor, kayaker, and hiker.

Cost: Free


May 4, 2023
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Event Category:


National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
1400 Inspiration Pl SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 United States
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