Brett HellermanJune 20, 1960 ~ June 25, 2017 (age 57)
Brett David Hellerman, 57, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, June 25 surrounded by family, friends and his beloved dog, Scout. His larger-than-life personality and infectious, distinctive laugh will be greatly missed.
Born on June 20, 1960 in New York, New York to Monica Carmona Mermelstein Hellerman and Don Vincent Hellerman, M.D., Brett grew up in Manhattan attending Dwight School and St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s School before going on to Middlesex School in Concord, Mass., where he graduated from in 1977. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a B.A. with honors in Diplomatic History in 1981.
Brett was a very active member of Penn’s “Mask & Wig” club, appearing in several productions, but is most remembered for his starring role as Boss Tweed Tortoni in the now infamous, “Ring Job.” Brett was thrilled to serve as the first Jewish president of the club as an alumnus from 1997 to 1999.
After Penn, Brett began his career as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate. He developed economic and infrastructure policy alongside Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois. When Percy retired from the Senate, Brett, vowing never to be poor again, became a fixed income professional at CSFB and Morgan Stanley. He moved on to Greenwich Capital Markets (now RBS) where he was instrumental in building the firm’s successful effort in mortgage securitization.
In 1991, Brett co-founded the Clinton Group, Inc., one of the first, and most successful, hedge fund management firms. After moving to Norfolk, Conn. in 1997, Brett founded the Norfolk Management Group (NMG), an investment bank and asset management firm focused on alternative investments.
During his time with NMG, he and Jonathan Rotolo envisioned and created Wood Creek Capital Management, an asset management company based in New Haven, Conn., that attracted some of the largest, most sophisticated institutional investment clients in the world. Brett’s vision, leadership and brash confidence resulted in a diverse range of investments, from music copyrights and pharma royalties to farmland and cell phone towers.
Brett married Ann Coleen Shields in 1997, and they lived together in Norfolk and New Haven, Conn., where they raised twin daughters, Klee and Julianna, now 17-years-old. Brett and Coleen were happily married for 20 years.
Brett was a member of Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, Conn., the New Haven Lawn Club, the Quinnipiac Club, the Norfolk Country Club, and the University Club in New York. He has served on the boards of the Jane Coffin Childs Fund, Validus Pharmaceuticals, Edenbridge Pharmaceuticals and Concord Bicycle Music, which grew to be the largest U.S. independent music business during Brett’s tenure.
Brett was preceded in death by his father, Don V. Hellerman. Along with his wife and daughters, Brett is survived by his mother, Monica de Hellerman, his stepfather, Milan Potmesil, his stepmother, Susan Hellerman, his brother, John Hellerman, sister-in-law, Stephanie, and their three children, Alissa, Jack and Mark, an aunt, Elizabeth Morgan, his cousins, Debra Haluska, Raquel Morgan and Sara Knight, several nieces and nephews and extensive in-laws.
Brett was known for his love of animals, particularly horses and dogs, his “joie de vivre,” irreverence, bawdy laughter, sharp intellect and creativity. His constant reading and insightful commentary led to visionary approaches to creating businesses, but he also had great insight into the human condition—about culture, religion, our behavior and himself. Brett took great delight in his friends and family, and will also be remembered for his incredible generosity.
A graveside service was held on Wednesday, June 28 at Center Cemetery in Norfolk, Conn. All are welcome at a memorial service to be held on Sunday, July 16 at 1 p.m. at Congregation Mishkan Israel, 785 Ridge Road, Hamden, Conn.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to the Connecticut Food Bank, Attn: Cheryl Thompson, Philanthropy Officer, 2 Research Parkway, Wallingford, Conn., 06492.