Funeral Details

Rachel Alison Heiss

February 20, 1991 - September 9, 2023


Date and Time

Friday, September 15, 2023 at 10:00 AM


Chicago Jewish Funerals
Buffalo Grove Chapel
195 North Buffalo Grove Road
Buffalo Grove, Illinois 60089
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Rabbi Karyn Kedar


Shalom Memorial Park
1700 West Rand Road
Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004
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Memorial Contributions

Seattle Humane
13212 SE Eastgate Way
Bellevue, Washington 98005
Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
225 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
The Trevor Project
Attn: Development
PO Box 69232
West Hollywood, California 90069
National Park Foundation
1500 K Street NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20005


Rachel Alison Heiss, 32, passed away on Saturday, September 9, while hiking near one of her favorite places in the world, Mt. Rainier. Beloved daughter of Mark and Michelle (nee Bernatsky), sister of Steven and Lauren, granddaughter of the late William and Jacqueline Bernatsky and Selma and Jacob Heiss, niece of Susan and Bart Greenberg and Randi and Mark Macioce, cousin of Philip Greenberg (fiancé Sophia Stone), Emily and Cort Percer, Jonathan and Chantel Macioce, Madeline Greenberg, Avi Percer, Carter Macioce, and cherished friend to many people and dogs. Rachel grew up first in Buffalo Grove, a place she forever claimed as her hometown, and graduated with a degree in marketing communications from Ithaca College, where she received the Campus Life Award, was senior class president, and gave a witty, memorable commencement speech. Rachel was incredibly accomplished in her field, collecting many awards and admiration along the way. She worked for McCann New York, Boston Beer (Rookie of the Year), and in Seattle for Starbucks (Bravo Award), Nestlé, and most recently, Amazon, where she was a senior communications manager. In both her professional and personal lives, she was known as the "connector" for her ability to bring people together. Rachel loved sports, especially the Chicago Cubs. She rallied friends and colleagues to games (no matter the team or sport) in every city she lived in, and even played hooky with her twin brother and cousin to see the Cubs. Rachel loved the outdoors; she leaned on her growing network to help her build the hiking, camping, and snowshoeing skills that allowed her to delight in Seattle's gorgeous scenery year-round. Her beautiful smile, infectious laugh, and warm, happy demeanor lifted the spirits of all those who were touched by her presence. Rachel imprinted upon us the most beautiful of lessons: Find your passions. Find your people. Seek adventure.

"Take lots of pictures, write things down, and create memories. You won't regret this when you get older." Rachel Heiss/Ithaca College, 2013

Service Friday, 10:00 am at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 195 N. Buffalo Grove Road, (one block north of Lake Cook Rd.) Buffalo Grove. Interment Shalom Cemetery. To view the funeral online, please visit our website. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Seattle Humane,, Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago,, The Trevor Project, or National Park Foundation, Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals – Buffalo Grove Chapel, 847.229.8822,


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Rachel was one of my first friends at Ithaca. We were both in the same year and IMC major, so we spent most of the day together each academic year for four wonderful years. I fondly remember always poking fun our regional accents (New Jersey and Chicago, can you imagine?) and spending weekends off-campus at meals or parties with Rachel. Whether it was laughing over classroom antics, funny memes, or shared Jewish humor, I always knew I could count on her to get me. I loved how brazen and bold Rachel was--going as far as to campaign for her senior class president candidacy ON A TABLE in a huge lecture hall during an especially boring class. It clearly worked...

Though we had drifted since graduation, I had recently reconnected with her when I saw she joined me at Amazon. We caught up over Slack and it was like no time had passed. I want this to be upbeat and positive, because this is a celebration of her life and she would want us all to smile. May her memory be a blessing. z"l

Marc Phillips
September 13, 2023
Rachel was a kind, silly and courageous friend. I remember remaking a scary movie with her and our friends in high school. It was a horrible remake, but we had SO much fun dressing up and filming it. Simply put: Rachel was a good human and she will be missed tremendously.

Olivia Meadows
September 13, 2023
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and getting to know Rachel only a few times - but she stands bright in my memories as a fun loving, accepting, adventurous, and confident friend. We shared a love of music from our middle school days, and even went to Las Vegas to watch these old bands perform live in a wonderful fun, funny, and connecting weekend. Rachel had a great ability to make those around her feel welcome and valuable, and I am so grateful that our lives crossed paths when they did. I hope she's got the best view from any mountain top she wishes now - I know I'll be thinking of her when I go hiking. Sending you my deepest condolences.

Diana Anthony
September 13, 2023
On behalf of the Seattle's Best Coffee and Nestle Coffee partner team - we will forever remember Rachel as a bright light, driven, energetic and engaged partner with a passion for her family, friends, team, business....and the outdoors. She is leaving a huge hole in our hearts, although her contributions will always live on. We are sending our thoughts and prayers for strength and resiliency through this very challenging time. Please accept our deepest condolences.

Friends at Nestle Coffee Partners Nestle USA
September 13, 2023
I was so lucky to work with Rachel during her time on Twisted Tea. I have so many fun memories traveling with her for Nascar events... from going out dancing together in Vegas, to getting to pop out of a plane on stage at a Dierks Bentley concert during Drunk on a Plane, to sitting in Ty Dillon's pit box in Michigan, or going to Waffle House late at night in Georgia. We had so much fun - she always made it fun. I was so sad when she told me she was leaving me to go to Starbucks! But it made me so happy to see her continue to thrive in her career and also live such an adventurous life. She was such an incredible person. She will be so missed. Rachel - thank you for all the fun.

Kate Bauer
September 14, 2023
Hi Rachel. I did not know you, but my team at Starbucks who I recently joined is deeply devastated by no longer having your presence which they describe as joyful. I am wishing you a well transition into the light which I know you're going and am sending my condolences to all who are grieving you here. Blessings.

Autumn Jackson
September 14, 2023
My deepest condolences to you and your family.

Takashi Komabayashi
September 14, 2023
Dear Mark,

We at the Wood Burditt Group are heartbroken over the loss of Rachel, your beloved daughter who was also a sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and friend to many. I wish I could have met her as she had a unique gift for bringing people together, earning her the nickname "the connector." To Mark and Michelle, Steven and Lauren, and to all of Rachel's family and friends, we extend our deepest sympathies. May you find comfort in the cherished memories you shared with Rachel and in the knowledge that her spirit lives on in the hearts of those she touched.

With heartfelt sympathy, Richard Chun

Richard Chun
September 14, 2023
With a heavy heart I extend my deepest sympathies. I cannot imagine this pain. May God be with you. Thoughts and prayers. Your Friend, Ivan Valcarenghi

Ivan Valcarenghi
September 14, 2023
On behalf of Rachel's former team at Starbucks, we send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and to the many lives of those she touched. Rachel was a bright light whose adventurous spirit, infectious laughter, and zest for life was contagious. She was witty, smart, talented, funny, caring, and made us all better by being in her presence. We honor her memory as a valued partner and friend and the impacts she made to so many. She will be deeply missed and we truly cherish the time we were fortunate to have with her. Sending so much love, light, and prayers to all.

Starbucks Card Team
September 14, 2023
I met Rachel at Starbucks and we bonded instantly, she was someone I could vent too, laugh with and was willing to let me enter her friend circle via the softball team.

Rachel was very much someone who brought people together with her inclusive personality and laughter. Because of Rachel I had one of my favorite Seattle summers that year! I was super sad to hear the news, but glad Rachel found how amazing a life outdoors is a life well lived could be,

Jim Doyle
September 14, 2023
I had the extreme good fortune to get to know Rachel during our time working together at Boston Beer on the Twisted Tea brand. At the time we were a very small team so we had the chance to work together very closely, and we got to know each other well.

Rachel was such a special person in so many ways. She was smart, funny, creative and very poised even in stressful times. She always brought a positive light to every situation and was someone who was liked and respected throughout our organization.

I have so many great memories of our time together. We attended NASCAR races with Ty Dillon, hung out with country music star Dierks Bentley and partnered up to make the first Twisted Tea TV commercial in several years on a shoe-string budget. Rachel's leadership and talents played a major part in the success we had during that time. Most importantly though, we had fun along the way.

I will forever remember her as a trusted friend, a talented colleague and a kind soul. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

Zach Hotz
September 14, 2023
It's been ten years since I was at Ithaca with Rachel. She is the type of person that even after all that time, come tomorrow, she would engage in thoughtful conversation with a genuine care and curiosity, sharing laughs and most likely, a good craft beer. Rachel was and will continue to be such a bright light in this world. I'm grateful for our time together, it will always be a great day to be a Bomber. Thanks for your impact on our lives, Rachel, may we live and love fiercely in honor of you.

Hillary O'Sullivan
September 14, 2023
To you and your lovely family, our hearts are broken and prayers with you always.I remember the girls with there brownie and Girl Scouts uniforms and forever laughing and having fun . Remember the good and the smiles .always ,the Dusold Family

Anne Dusold
September 15, 2023
I was fortunate enough to get to know Rachel through Ithaca as orientation leaders, in what I believe was a pretty special group. Rachel was clearly such a force of light and joy and connection, and always made everyone feel welcomed and cared for. She was always so much fun to be around, and I will always remember the time we shared together that summer.

I haven't been in contact with Rachel for many years, and hearing of her passing was such a shock. It brought me right back to our time together, and how many people she must have made laugh, and feel so happy to have met her.

Sammy Sirois
September 15, 2023
Rachel was one of the kindest, warmest people I ever met in my time at Ithaca College. She was a force. Whether we were working together on a group project for class or on a student government initiative, if she wanted something done -- it got done. Not only because she was incredibly talented and smart and driven, but also because she motivated everyone around her to be better, do more, and contribute to the things you care about. She encouraged me and many others to get more involved in campus life, pursue our passions, and remember to still have a little fun at the end of the day. The world is a better place because she was in it.

My deepest condolences go out to her family, friends, coworkers, and anyone whose life she touched. May her memory be a blessing.

Rachael Hartford
September 15, 2023
Rachel and I first met at the beginning of freshman year and while we hadn't kept in touch in recent years, I have such fond memories of Rachel throughout high school. Whether hanging out at home or school, going to football games, or making crafts, Rachel always brought such a bright, kind, and positive energy wherever she went. One of my fondest memories with Rachel is walking from her house to Dunkin' Donuts, in hopes that we would get all the leftover donuts from the day. The trips were often a success and we would stuff ourselves with free donuts while being silly and laughing together.

Heiss family- I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Michele Henhapl
September 15, 2023
Rachel joined 55 days into Amazon but she left an indelible impression on our team. Her big smile radiated through our conference calls and she was making such amazing progress. The last thing I said to Rachel was on Wednesday, September 6 during our team meeting. We do wins and shoutouts at the beginning of the call. I gave Rachel a shoutout and told her how I impressed I was with her and how quickly she earned six months work of experience only 50+ days in. We shared our love for the outdoors and national parks. I only wish we had more time with her.

Mark and Michelle: You raised a lovely human.


Vimala Ingram
September 15, 2023
I met Rachel back in our college days 10+ years ago. Everyone knew Rachel. She was like Ithaca College. But more than that, she was an exceptional human and an inspirations woman. There was no task too big and no challenge to hard. When Rachel wanted to do something she did it, and she did it in the most humble way. After college, I was lucky enough to spend even more time with her while we both lived in Astoria. I can't tell you the amount of beer we drank at THE beer garden. She made me feel so welcome in her group of friends when I was lacking. Ithaca girl brunches, Cortaca reunions, I always had an invite from her. Her warmth and kindness was unmatched. I remember spending a Valentine's Day with her. We took the train from Astoria to the UES, where I now live, and got drinks at the Penrose. Two single girls, wearing all black, sitting at the bar. Only Rachel will know the rest of that story. While we lost touch after her move to Seattle, I alway cherished my time with her. She made a challenging time in my life less challenging, and for that I'll always be grateful.

I'll have a craft beer tonight in her honor with Wagon Wheel playing in the background. May her memory be a blessing.

Molly Apfelroth
September 15, 2023
Although Rachel and I lost touch in our adult years, she was a part of my childhood. Growing up together I have such great memories playing with Rachel, doing Girl Scouts and dressing up for Halloween together. Her positivity and smile are things I'll never forget. In the last few years I loved looking at her adventures on Instagram and was in awe in all the amazing things she was doing. I am so sad to hear she is gone, but I will be thinking of her the next time I hike in a beautiful place or explore somewhere new.

Sending my thoughts to the Heiss family during this time.

Laura Blumenfeld
September 15, 2023
Such a beautiful tribute to Rachel. Those who knew her were very fortunate indeed.

Carol and Greg Farrell
September 15, 2023
Rachel and I met on the type of day she loved - at a long brewery table filled with old and new friends from different parts of Seattle life. I was still brand new to the city and she immediately made me feel comfortable and welcome as we bonded over the years we had each spent in New York. From that point forward, friendship came easily. I feel so lucky to have spent countless hours with her out in the mountains, on the water, in long car rides, on the softball field, at new restaurants and backyard barbecues, the list goes on.

Rachel made life infinitely richer for our Seattle chosen family. She led by example with joy, laughter (so much laughter), kindness, and adventure. She was present, always, and made everyone feel like the funniest and most important person in the room. And she ALWAYS had a story.

Rachel - thank you for your friendship. Thanks for making sure we had the good bats this season, for (finally) appreciating early 2000s teen dramas, for acting like my peanut butter and banana sandwiches were a culinary masterpiece every single time, and for laughing so damn much.

Heiss Family - thank you for sharing a piece of her with our Seattle community. She meant so much to all of us.

Michelle Weinman
September 15, 2023
I did not know Rachel, but I am deeply moved by her passing and
the incredible impact she made in her short life. She was the essence
of goodness with a life filled with meaningful work, family, friendship,
joy, and love. Beautiful service. May her memory be forever a blessing.

September 15, 2023
Mark and Michelle, please accept our most sincere condolences for such a devastating loss. We cannot even imagine what you are going through. Wishing you strength and comfort during this difficult time, please know that we are here for you.

Delffy and Ana Ramones
September 15, 2023
My deepest sympathy for the Heiss Family. We have known Rachel since she was 3 years old when our kids met in pre school . Her and Steven were for many years my kids best friends and at our house for almost every celebration and holiday.
We watched her grow up from a little girl to a beautiful young woman
I am heartbroken and your family will always be in my heart.
We will never forget her.
Love Susan, Joe, Max, Jennifer and Daniele Affrunti

Susan Affrunti
September 15, 2023
Rachel and I attended Ithaca college together, and ultimately ended up at McCann NY together. At one year my senior, I looked to Rachel as a role model, someone who had a great work ethic, was a strong networker and had an infectious personality.

She was incredibly welcoming to me when I joined Ithaca's student government association, helping guide me in how to succeed and who to know. And she was such a warm familiar face when I made my way to McCann a year following her. In fact, she role modeled again in our professional career having success launching a very edgy PSA about gun violence. She prided herself on being called the pitbull in a skirt by some TV network execs - of course because she always got the job done and made people like her in the process.

I'll never forget her vivacious smile and energy. Especially the one time we both happy laugh/cried when Rob F. played guitar that final night of SGA on a bet we never thought he'd keep. Rachel was a true light and beautiful human, and I'll remember her that way.

Wishing deepest condolences and love to the Heiss family, and all the friends and loved ones who too are shocked and heartbroken.

Gillian DeRario
September 15, 2023
My heart breaks for all whose lives have been touched by Rachel's loving and kind soul. Although it's been many years since I watched the innocent kindergartener explore her world, it's obvious that she continued to embrace life with that same exuberance and sweetness. May we all learn from her love of life.

Carrie Dyer
September 16, 2023
While we only got to have a tiny piece of the big, beautiful Rachel puzzle during her short time at Amazon, it clearly imprinted upon all of us. We are grieving with you, Mark, Michelle, Steve, Lauren, and family - but mostly celebrating a life well-lived and loved. We have loved learning even more about Rachel over the last week and the impact she had, wherever she went. It was so fun being in Chicago with Rachel in August, her hometown, and watching her argue with her new colleagues about which deep dish pizza is best. She was fearless and bold, and that's how we'll always remember her. Thank you for sharing her with the world. Thank you for loving and raising her in a way that showed her she was fully capable of anything. She knew it, and made others feel the same. Sending you love. - Jenn

Jenn Monaghan
September 17, 2023
It's been a week since I heard the news, and the rushing of happy memories with Rachel still hasn't stopped. The sheer odds of overlapping in the same time and space is slim - and I'll never forget the two years Rachel and I shared at Ithaca. She was a positive force from the moment she stepped onto campus. I was grateful to be a mentor to her but also to learn from her. Will never forget the moment when the election results came in, and she shrieked with joy on becoming the next VP of Campus Life. Passing that torch to her was an honor. She was always serving the greater good, and with a smile on her face.

Her bright light was a north star as I navigated a very dark time. And we certainly had our fair share of laughing fits, dance parties, and spontaneous adventures. One of the best nights of my life was sharing in a Third Eye Blind concert with Rachel. What an epic story that is!

Her love was unbound. Her joy for living was palpable. She is cherished.

Deepest condolences to her family. May ber memory be a blessing.

Susannah Faulkner
September 17, 2023
Mark, I'm sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers for you and your family.
Toni Cusimano

Toni Cusimano
September 18, 2023
I worked with Rachel one summer at Jay's Camp in Long Grove, IL. She was so wonderful with the campers and staff - it was my first summer working, and she was an easy person to look up to and follow. My deepest condolences to her family.

Jesse Sisler
September 19, 2023