Born on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1938 to Jim and Bertha Herman, in Olney, Illinois, he was the seventh of ten children. At a young age, his birth name had given way to the nickname “Doc” for which he became ever known: Doc, Uncle Doc or Grandpa Doc. The guiding principles of his life were faith, family, and work, in that order and it was his daily initiative to live out those principles.
He was proud to be from Olney. The values of this small town and the character of its people were highly influential in the development of his core values which included honesty, integrity, and a tireless work ethic. He was proud of his family. Everyone in his family worked hard every day, and those attributes were very important to him throughout his life. With his dad and siblings, he was required to milk cows every morning before school or shell corn, and also milk in the evenings, once he was in high school.
After matriculating through St. Joseph’s Grade School, East Richland High School (where it was his honor to serve as senior class President for the Class of 1956), University of Illinois, and finally the University of Illinois Medical School, he had realized the destiny for which he was nicknamed. He officially became “Doc”.
After graduating from Medical School, Doc went to the Army. A soldier at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in the 101st Airborne, he met, fell in love with, and married his wife of 52 years, Mary, on May the 8, 1965. After fulfilling his military commitment, they moved to St. Louis, where he completed his orthopedic surgery residency at St. Louis University, and finally settled in Vincennes in 1971. He was the first residency trained Orthopedic Surgeon to practice in Vincennes, and his legacy remains as a founding member of the Vincennes Orthopedic Surgery Clinic. During his career, he had the distinction of serving as the President of the Indiana Orthopedic Society in 1991. Practicing medicine was a privilege that Doc never took for granted, as he described it in his own words during his retirement speech “[I] am indescribably thankful and appreciative for our patients without whom we would have no purpose or meaning for our work.”
While in St. Louis, Doc and Mary began growing their own family by having Daniel, John and Patrick. Upon arrival in Vincennes came Maria, Molly, Eric and Lynn Therese. In all, over the last 52 years, they had seven surviving children and were blessed with 30 grandchildren. He loved his family and was compelled to teach them the same values that his parents taught him, primarily that of hard work, accountability and commitment to family. His word was his bond, and he expected the same from everyone else. With respect to family, Doc’s profoundly simple philosophy in the face of hardship or dilemma was to “stick together.” Regarding work ethic, it was not uncommon to find Doc in one of his kid’s backyards, ready to work on a project no matter how long his work day had already been. At times it was exhausting for everyone involved, but made for some lasting memories.
He loved to support his kids and grandkids at their athletic and school events and pushed them to make the most of their talents, always maintaining high expectations. From an academic standpoint, he definitely led by example. He always had a book in his hand. Although he did not have the opportunity to play competitive sports growing up, participation was highly encouraged with his children, not for the experience of winning, but for the combination of working your mind and body. He would hit fly balls for hours after work and he probably rebounded more than 100,000 free throw shots in his lifetime. He was known for saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect!”
Hunting, fishing, and farming were among some of his favorite things, with the requirement that he would be accompanied by a son, daughter, grandchild, or friend, and the Palestine farm he loved so dearly often provided the environment for these activities. Although it should be noted, fishing and hunting for sport were a foreign concept to Doc. His agenda was to put all sorts of wild game in the freezer. He hated throwing fish back and could only rationalize this behavior if a fish was deemed too small, which was rare, and displayed a large measure of disgust if anyone ever spoke of “passing” on a deer. Like everything else he did, he treated his recreational activities with a workmanlike approach.
At the age of 52, doc began snow skiing, which he thoroughly enjoyed doing with anyone he could get to go with him. Despite the fact that he learned to ski later in life, he had become almost an expert skier. He could ski just about any trail. He didn’t fall much, but when he did, it was a “yard sale”. Those who witnessed such falls were often doubtful that he would ever get up, but he always did, which was a tribute to the toughness that he often displayed.
Lastly, but most importantly, was his faith, which was exceptionally strong and important to him. During his medical practice and while raising his family, he trusted the power of prayer to help him through the good times and bad. Faith in God’s Plan gave him the courage and strength to be an instrument of the Lord in his work and his family, especially in times of uncertainty. This was never more apparent than in the final two months of his life.
He is survived by his children, Dr. Daniel J. Herman, Jr. and his wife, Ann, of Vincennes, John A. Herman and his wife, Mindy, of McCordsville, Patrick M. Herman and his wife, Sheila, of Vincennes, Maria E. Earley and her husband, Grant, of Vincennes, Dr. Molly A. Weiss and her husband, David, of Vincennes, Dr. Eric L. Herman and his wife, Katie, of Vincennes, and Dr. Lynn T. Stine and her husband, Dr. Scott Stine, of Vincennes; his grandchildren, Gabriel, Ellie, Lauren, Ben, Meg, and Faith Herman, Sarah, Cole, Abby, and Jacob Herman, Caroline, Kathryn, and Thomas Herman, Maggie, Mitchell, and Natalie Earley, Luke, Meredith, Max, and Nathan Weiss, Anna, Mary, Claudia, Phillip, and Will Herman, and Emma, Bridget, Lucy, Kate, and Isabella Stine. Mourning his loss are his siblings Marge Hughes, Jane Herman, Alice Billman and her husband, Earl, Ray Herman and his wife, Bev, and Phyllis Harris and her husband, David.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary H. (Martin) Herman; his infant son, Phillip Adolf Herman; his parents Jim and Bertha Herman; his siblings, Louella Zuber, Jim Herman, Julia Blank, and Kenneth Herman.
Arrangement will include visitation at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 803 Main Street, from 2-8 p.m. on Friday, January 5th. A rosary will be prayed upon conclusion of the visitation. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 6th, with the Rev. David Fleck celebrating. Interment will be at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Christian Education Foundation, the YMCA of Vincennes, or Highland Woods Community Center. Goodwin Funeral Home was honored to assist the family with arrangements.