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Dr. Howard M. Hecker † (1935 – 2002)

NEWMARKET - Howard M. Hecker, prehistorian and zooarchaeologist, died of cancer on May 26, 2002, at the age of 67. Born and raised in Brooklyn by his parents Irving and Ray Hecker, he graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1952, and spent several years living in Israel, where he was also a member of a folkdance troupe. He also trained and worked as a mechanic. Upon his return to New York City in 1962, he attended Hunter College at night, graduating with a BA in Archaeology in 1966, followed by a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University in 1975.

In the early years he taught at New York University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Potsdam University, and the University of New Hampshire. He culminated his teaching career as Associate Professor of Anthropology at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, NH from 1988-2000, where he was known as a dedicated, humorous, and demanding teacher who inspired many of his students to pursue further graduate work and careers in archaeology and physical anthropology.

Trained as a prehistorian and zooarchaeologist specializing in the Middle East, he has participated in excavations in Iran, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt, investigating the domestication of sheep and goat in Jordan, and documenting the diets of ancient working class Egyptians in Tel El-Amarna and the Giza plateau. Among other things, he highlighted the culinary importance of pig at Tel El Amarna, something not represented in elite tomb and wall paintings, and found the oldest chicken bone in Egypt. He also excavated several prehistoric and historic sites in New Hampshire. Since 1998 he served as faunal analyst to the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project, focusing on the identification of animal remains from ritual cave sites and the important royal site of Baking Pot.

Among his many other interests were a love of tinkering and repairing things, baseball, travel, museums, theater and dance, and art. He was also strongly committed to public education, the use of reason, and the pursuit of social and political justice.

A resident of Newmarket, NH, since 1977, punctuated by several years living abroad in Egypt and Tunisia, he is survived by his wife of 29 years, Barbara K. Larson, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UNH; his children, Marlayna and Adam Hecker of Newmarket and Orrin R. Hecker of Austin, TX; his former wife Bernice Hecker of Austin Texas; his in-laws Arnold and Dina Larson of Rye, NH; and several cousins.

A memorial celebration was held at the First Unitarian Society of Exeter, 12 Elm Street, Exeter, NH on Sunday, June 9th. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Howard M. Hecker Memorial Fund at Newmarket Junior-Senior High School, 213 Main St., Newmarket, NH 03857.

To sign an online guestbook, send a condolence, or for more information please visit the Kent & Pelczar Funeral Home.