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J. Arthur Herrick: Citizen

Memorial Service Set for The Herricks

July 22, 2008

Kent State University is mourning the passing of J. Arthur "Art" and Margaret Herrick, emeriti professors and two of the university's most generous benefactors.

Professor Herrick, who celebrated his his 100th birthday on July 5, died Sunday, July 20, 2008. Mrs. Herrick, who was born Sept. 13, 1918, died Friday, July 18, 2008.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the community room of Laurel Lake in Hudson. A second memorial service will be held at the United Church of Christ in Kent at a later date.

Professor Art Herrick, who began teaching in 1937 at KSU, where he trained generations of botanists, conservationists and teachers, was one of Ohio's leading conservationists. He retired from KSU in 1972.

Professor Margaret Herrick graduated from the university in 1941, and taught speech pathology and audiology for many years until her retirement in 1982, the year she married her husband.

Together, the Herricks made a tremendous impact at KSU, giving more than $2.4 million in their lifetimes. They were the first supporters to give more than $1 million, and in 2004 they received the university's Lifetime Philanthropy Award. Many of their gifts supported the J. Arthur and Margaret Hatton Herrick Endowed Chair in Plant Conservation Biology.

In addition to their gifts to KSU, Dr. Herrick also purchased 140 acres in Portage County in 1969 to ensure that it be preserved in its natural state. That land became the J. Arthur Herrick Fen Nature Preserve, which he donated to KSU and the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, of which he was a founding member.

Herrick Fen is located off Seasons Road in the southwest quadrant of the city of Streetsboro in the Tinkers Creek watershed. It helps protect the habitat of more than two dozen state-listed protected species of plants, according to The Nature Conservancy. Among these are the tamarack fen, the only conifer native to Ohio that sheds its needles each year.

Art Herrick joined The Nature Conservancy in 1958, according to a profile on the organization's Web site. In 1974 he published a book titled "The Natural Areas Project: A Summary of Data to Date" on Ohio's wild places that became known as "Herrick's List," according to The Nature Conservancy. The organization later made him an Honorary Life Trustee.

"It is difficult to express fully the scope of the Herricks' legacy at Kent State," KSU President Lester Lefton said. "As academic leaders, they educated thousands of students. As conservationists, they worked to ensure that the environment is preserved for future generations. And as philanthropists, they guaranteed resources will be available for scholars long past their lifetimes."

After retirement, Art Herrick became known to many in the community simply as the "tree man" because of his efforts to cut down dead trees -- he donated any funds he was paid for that work to the Cooperrider Herbarium Fund at KSU.

The cake for his 100th birthday celebration, which was held June 25 at Laurel Lake Retirement Community in Hudson, where the Herricks resided, included an image of him atop a 30-foot ladder, completing a tree trimming task when he was 70 years old.

At his Morris Road home in Kent, he planted hundreds of varieties of trees and plants over the years.

"The most amazing sight was Art Herrick, at 95 years old, climbing in a tree carrying a chainsaw in the middle of a snowstorm," says Joe Macedo, associate vice president of gift and estate planning. "Twice he had me out in a snowstorm, chopping dead wood to clear land. He refused to let age stop him from pursuing his passion."

In 1969, the KSU Board of Trustees awarded Art Herrick the President's Medal, the highest honor for a faculty or staff member.

In 1972, Gov. John J. Gilligan inducted Art Herrick into Ohio's Natural Resources Hall of Fame. In 2001, he was named Ohio's Conservation Hero, one of 50 individuals -- one from each state -- to be selected nationally.

In 2007, the university named its planned-giving organization the Herrick Society in recognition of the couple's generosity. A number of campus sites also are named after the couple, including the Herrick Aquatic Ecology Research Facility, a one-acre wetland study site; and the Herrick Conservatory Gardens and Arboretum.

The Herricks also endowed a research fund to support students working and learning at the Aquatic Ecology Research Facility.

Margaret Herrick was especially proud of the connections created through couple's philanthropy. In a 2007 interview she remarked, "Our experiences at Kent State and as donors have introduced us to the greatest people."

Survivors include Arthur Herrick's son, Glenn, who divides his time between Utah and Italy. Margaret Herrick is survived by her sister, Betty Shields and her husband, Cliff of Colorado and her brother, James Hatton and his wife, Erma of Arizona, four nephews and one niece, their spouses and children.

"He's a hard act to follow," Glenn Herrick said.

The Herricks have donated their bodies to the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine in Rootstown.