Richard “Rich” Herra, 73, of Elburn, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, surrounded by the love and prayers of his family. A big man with an even bigger heart, he leaves this world without a chance to say goodbye, but leaves a legacy of memories to balm our grieving hearts.
He was born May 1, 1941, the son of George and Mary (Kessel) Herra, in Geneva.
Rich grew up in Elburn and attended local schools while helping out at the family grocer on Main Street in Elburn. He was “hired out” on occasion to local farmers, helping them in the fields, season after season. He was so popular, farmers would put in their reservations for “the tall son” when he was busy. He was one of the first classes to attend Kaneland High School. Before he graduated with the class of 1961, Rich was a captain of the football team, inspiring all the “gridiron greats” to follow in his footsteps generations later.
Aug. 3, 1964, was a day to live in infamy–at least for Rich–as that was the fateful day he was introduced to Mary Fulk. They soon fell in love, and the rest was history. Their two hearts became one on Nov. 21, 1965. They began their new life together in Aurora for a time before coming back home to Elburn in 1968, where they raised a growing family. They were blessed with two children, Richard and Rhonda. Almost 49 years of marriage brought millions of both laughter and tears. But one thing was for sure: they were unforgettable.
Rich had a history of working in and for his community. He worked as a part time police officer for ten years and spent 36 years as a volunteer fireman. H & L Altepeter operated in Lily Lake, but Rich and his brother Jack had the opportunity to buy the business, and they renamed it J & R Herra Inc. After a lifetime filled with a work ethic that was second to none, Rich put down his tools and retired in 2009.
He was a lifetime member of the St. Charles Sportsman’s Club, and a faithful member of the Fox Valley Christian Church. Rich was also a proud member of the N.R.A.
Rich’s strength was legendary, and more importantly, true. He would hold the end of a 16-pound sledgehammer with one hand, and gently scratch the end of his nose as easy as holding a pencil. He also was an accomplished marksman who loved to shoot and make new friends at every club.
As a dedicated member of the Elburn Fire Department, Rich felt privileged each and every time he was able to drive the antique Model A fire truck in the Elburn Days Parade and other festive occasions. He was also a practical man, picking the date of his marriage to coincide with deer hunting season.
Although Rich had a look that could stop you in your tracks, there was no one who enjoyed a practical joke or shared an easy laugh like Rich. He once tied the shoes of a whole volleyball team together in intricate knots while they were playing a game, only to return to the bench to see Rich’s handiwork. He also was a favorite dinner companion every Friday night, taking out friends and neighbors. It was only coincidence that most of them were of the female persuasion, jokingly referred to as his “harem.” Some of his favorite spots were as far as 100 miles away.
Rich was a family man through and through, prizing them above all else. But he always had a special place in his heart for his grandson R.J. No one can Rich’s shoes, nor live up to the man who lived his life as a “gentle giant,” but we can admire the footsteps he left for us to follow and never forget the memories he left behind.
He is survived by his loving wife, Mary; two children, Richard (Kandy) Herra and their son R.J., and Rhonda (Mike Fung) Herra; four siblings, D. Larry (Maxine) Herra, Leroy (Carol) Herra, Dean Herra and Darlene (Terry) Terrill; one brother-in-law, Glenn (Margie) Fulk; two sisters-in-law, Janet Herra and Ruth Fulk; several nieces, nephews, a host of “shooting buddies” and a countryside filled with friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, George and Mary; two sisters, Marie Fraunberg and Janet, the latter of which passed away in infancy; brother, Jack Herra; two brothers-in law, Jim Fraunberg and Howard Fulk; and last but never least, his favorite hunting dogs, Lady and Diamond, who were faithful hunting buddies till the end.
Visitation will take place Monday, Nov. 3, from 3 to 8 p.m., at Fox Valley Christian Church, 40W150 Main St. Road, Batavia. A funeral to celebrate his life will take place at 10 a.m., with a time of visitation from 9 to 9:45 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 4, also at the church. Pastors Dan Fields and Josh LaGrange will officiate, with interment to follow at Blackberry Township Cemetery, Elburn.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Rich’s name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Rich Herra Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com.
In honor of Rich and his “timeless” sense of fashion, all are welcome to attend both visitation and funeral in casual dress and/or their best camouflage wear.