The Rev. Howard J. Heim, 86, a professor emeritus at St. Joseph's University, died of heart failure Friday at Manresa Hall, the Jesuit retirement residence in Merion.

Father Heim taught physics for 36 years at St. Joseph's. He was a popular teacher who greeted each class with a cheerful "How are my Happy Hawks today," a former student, Joe Lunardi, said.

After retiring in 1996, Father Heim was chaplain for nine years at the convent of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Merion.

Father Heim and his five siblings grew up in Bridesburg. After graduating from St. Joseph's Preparatory School, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Wernersville, Pa. He earned bachelor's degrees in liberal arts and in sacred theology from Woodstock College in Maryland before his ordination in 1953.

After completing graduate studies in physics at Catholic University of America, Father Heim taught at Wheeling Jesuit College in West Virginia and at Loyola High School in Towson, Md.

A Phillies fan, he tried to listen to every game on the radio and had high hopes every year that the team would go all the way, Lunardi said.

Father Heim is survived by two brothers, three sisters, and nieces and nephews.

Friends may call from 2 to 4 p.m. today at Manresa Hall, Loyola Center, 261 City Ave., Merion, and from 10 a.m. tomorrow until a Funeral Mass at 11 at St. Mathias Church, 128 Bryn Mawr Ave., Bala Cynwyd.