Obituary for William F. "Bill" Herman Jr.
A list of superlatives is where we begin to describe an extraordinary man and his life:
Trail-blazer, visionary, entrepreneur, adventurer
Courageous, hard-working, high standards & high expectations
Full of vitality and enthusiasm for life, full of passion and zest for living, non-stop at work and at play
Thrived on caring for others, always willing to pitch in and lend a hand to someone in need
William Frederick Herman Jr, or Bill to everyone that knew him, of New Paltz, NY, died on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at Woodland Pond CCRC. He was 82. Bill was born on July 3, 1935 in White Plains, NY. He attended Stepinac High School, then SUNY Farmingdale for Horticultural Studies and Landscape Design after serving in the US Army abroad in Europe from 1955-57.
In 1959 after 7 years of dating, Bill married high school sweetheart Virginia ‘Ginger’ Gillronan, and together they had 4 children: daughters Cindy and Debra, and sons Bill III and Chris.
A dynamo and a go-getter, Bill took on leadership roles beginning in high school and through his college years. He continued being an active community and business leader upon coming to Dutchess County in many area organizations and trade associations, including the Lions Club in the Town of Poughkeepsie and several Nurserymen’s and Landscape Associations, and was recognized within his industry and by his peers as an outstanding landscape designer, winning awards for his work.
Bill was a self starter early on, beginning his first landscape business while still in high school, at times employing his fellow schoolmates as the business grew. Nicknamed “Herman the Bushman” by many, his great passion for landscaping came from generations of family members who worked in horticulture, like his grandfather who emigrated from Germany to become a head gardener on the Vanderbilt estate in Hyde Park. Starting Herman’s Nursery & Garden Center and Landscape Design Build Company in 1960, he was a pioneer in the landscape industry of Duchess County and beyond as a major small business employer, and was instrumental in grooming many of the landscape business owners that operate today. Employing hundreds of people over 5 decades and giving many a start to their career at Herman’s, Bill’s employees became an expanded family. Retiring in 2013 after 53 years in business, Bill and the Nursery were especially remembered by generations of families for the animated Christmas Wonderland.
An early adopter and a visionary, Bill set his sights and his goals high. While still in college, he invested in his business property on Route 44 in Town of Poughkeepsie as preparation for the start of his landscape business upon completion of his degree. He founded the Coin Group, an early iteration of a “mastermind” for fellow Northeast nursery business owners beginning in the 1960s. A very generous man, Bill gave to many organizations, associations, non-profit charities and people of his community throughout his life. He loved to present flowers and winter greens to his wide network of beloved clients, family & friends.
Fostering a lifelong love of travel and affinity for his European roots, Bill used his Army years to reconnect with his family throughout Ireland & Germany, then instilled his children with these loves, particularly with his Irish family on the hill in County Mayo, Ireland.
His zest for living was evident in how much he loved to dance, throw parties, and visit with friends and family. He was an avid skier, enjoying a ski vacation home in Londonderry, VT where he and his family and many friends built fond memories for 25 years. Bill also loved to ride horses with his family and tend to his 90 acre farm in Pleasant Valley. If you ever had a conversation with him, you know that Bill could talk to anyone.
Bill is survived by wife Ginger; daughters Cindy & fiance Kenny Savino of High Falls, NY, and Debra of Santa Barbara, CA; son Bill of Charleston, SC; and son Chris & partner Angela Dumadag of New York, NY, as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews here and abroad.
Visiting hours will be held at William G. Miller & Son Funeral Home at 371 Hooker Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY on Friday August 4, 2017 from 2:00 to 4:00pm and from 6:00 to 8:00pm, and on Saturday August 5, 2017 from 10:00am to 12:00pm. A memorial service will also take place at William G. Miller & Son Funeral Home on Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 12:00pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Bill’s name to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research by supporting “Trailblazers for Bill” in running the 2017 NYC Marathon at https://fundraise.michaeljfox.org/2017-TCS-NYC-Marathon/TrailblazersForBill If you wish to send an online condolence please visit our website at www.wmgmillerfuneralhome.com