'She never left her friends behind': Buffalo Grove woman dies in Mount Rainier accident

During her life, Rachel Heiss encouraged others to create memories.

Heiss created a treasure trove of her own, which friends and family celebrated Friday in Buffalo Grove.

Heiss, 32, died Sept. 9 after an accidental fall while hiking near one of her favorite places, Mount Rainier in Washington state, her family said.

Growing up in Buffalo Grove, Heiss took part in Model U.N. at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and developed an early interest in sports, including through the Buffalo Grove Recreation Association.

She would go on to attend Ithaca College in New York, where she majored in integrated marketing communications and international communications. At Ithaca, she was senior class president and co-chair of an Ad Lab team that competed in a national student advertising competition. She also held internships at CBS Radio and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

During her Ithaca commencement speech, she told fellow students, "Take lots of pictures, write things down, and create memories. You won't regret this when you get older."

Heiss would go on to take many pictures, especially of the scenery of her adopted Seattle, where she enjoyed hiking, camping and snowshoeing, and rooted avidly for the NHL's Seattle Kraken.

But first, her professional life took her to New York City, where she worked for the McCann advertising agency, then to Boston, to work for the Boston Beer Co., best known for its Samuel Adams brands. She moved to Seattle to work for Starbucks, then later Nestle and, finally, for Amazon, as senior communications manager.

"Rachel wasn't an outdoors person in New York, but something was unlocked in her when she moved to Seattle," said her twin brother, Steven Heiss.

Heiss earned several professional awards, and her mother, Michelle Heiss, said her daughter especially proud of the Brady: United Against Gun Violence campaign she worked on with McCann.

Family members also recall Heiss' smile and infectious laugh, among many endearing personality traits.

"She was an avid collector of baseball hats," Steven said. "In every location that she ever lived in, she was collecting hats."

Her father, Mark Heiss, said she remained loyal to Chicago, even reminding her fellow Ithaca students at the commencement that Chicago pizza is way better than New York pizza.

"One of the things about Rachel is she never left her friends behind," Mark Heiss said.

Memorial contributions may be made to Seattle Humane, Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, The Trevor Project, Brady: United Against Gun Violence or the National Park Foundation.

Family members said Rachel Heiss enjoyed the outdoors in her adopted Seattle. The 32-year-old Stevenson High School graduate died Sept. 9, after an accidental fall while hiking near Mount Rainier in Washington state. Courtesy of the Heiss Family
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