READING, Pa. -

The Berks County community is mourning the loss of Mervin Heller Jr., a lawyer, local leader and a man whose love of tennis made him one of the sport's most influential players behind the scenes.

From politics to sports, Merv Heller Jr. left his mark in Berks County.

"He's somebody I've known through most of my career, and I guess in a quiet way, he is a mentor," said Commissioner Christian Leinbach, R-Berks Co.

"He actually helped me learn how to play doubles here at Hillcrest, probably about 30 years ago," said Don Hutchison, friend of Heller.

Heller, 65, was surrounded by his family when he died from cancer on Tuesday.

Heller was an attorney for 30 years and a shareholder at the law firm of Leisawitz Heller since 1997.

Heller was also one-time chair of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Ellen Horan, the chamber's president and CEO, said Heller was also a community leader, serving on the boards of several non-profit organizations.

"Merv was ahead of his time in really promoting good governance among organizations, and he was a long term and strategic thinker," said Horan.

Heller was the chair of the Berks County Republican Party, campaigning for former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Heller also ran for state Senate.

"One of the reasons people respected him and wanted him to be an adviser is because he's frank, and he was honest," said Leinbach.

One of the biggest passions in Heller's life was tennis. He played at Reading High School and broke tennis records while attending East Stroudsburg University.

Heller was also the president of the U.S. Tennis Association for two years. As president, he had the opportunity to present the U.S. Open trophies to famous tennis stars, such as Pete Sampras, Leyton Hewett and Serena Williams.

Heller helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the county's inner-city tennis programs.

"We started putting together some great junior programs that eventually turned onto a core program recognized two years ago being one of the top three inner-city junior programs in the country," said Hutchison.

Those who knew him said Heller's legacy will never be forgotten.

"An amazing guy, a man that I am proud to be able to say that he was my friend. He's going to be missed," said Leinbach.