On February 26, 2013, Keith Herrman heard the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” as he entered into the joy of the Lord. A longtime resident of the Connell, Wash., area, Keith will be greatly missed by many.
He was born on September 29, 1922 in Philip, S.D., to Leroy and Hazel Heiens Herrman. Keith spent his childhood on his family’s farm and ranch in the Philip area and attended rural schools along with his younger sisters. At the age of 16, Keith boarded in Philip with other rural students and attended Philip High School during his freshman year. In 1939, after several long years of drought in the 1930s, his family moved to Nyssa, Ore., and settled on land in the new Owyhee Irrigation Project.
Keith graduated from Nyssa High School in 1942 as the class salutatorian and was honored with the Union Pacific college scholarship, but it was the war years. A ruptured appendix kept Keith from active duty in WWII, with the newly discovered sulfa drugs saving his life. Instead, he and his family maintained their family dairy as part of the war effort. In 1948, Keith attended Oregon State University for one term, but realized that his real love was family farming, and returned home to Nyssa to continue farming there.
In 1953, Keith’s interest turned to the Columbia Basin of Washington when he stayed with friend, Kenneth Matson, while raising beans on 40 acres in the Quincy area. Keith “commuted” from Nyssa to Quincy in a Cessna 140 that he co-owned with four others, which marked the beginning of another lifelong interest – flying. Keith began to look for land in the Columbia Basin Project while continuing to farm in the Nyssa area.
In late 1953, Keith met the future love of his life, Anna Bauman, daughter of Otto and Louella Bauman who owned the Allis-Chalmers dealership in Nyssa. Anna was teaching school “just for a year or two” before she intended to return to her childhood hometown of Grand Junction, Colo. Keith convinced Anna to stay in the Nyssa area and they were married on August 17, 1957. Keith had purchased land in eastern Washington and Keith and Anna traveled to Connell on their honeymoon to begin the process of land leveling and putting in a cover crop for their new farm in Block 18 of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project.
In the early days of farming in Block 18, Keith was a helpful neighbor to many of the surrounding farmers. Although many have preceded him in death, those early pioneers of irrigated farming helped each other through the trials of taming the land and learning how to manage the unique soils of the Columbia Basin.
Keith was an innovative farmer, always striving to improve his land, equipment and processes. He was selected as the Washington State Conservation Farmer of the Year in 1961 by the Soil Conservation Service. Over the years, Keith grew many different crops, including beans, sugar beets, potatoes, seed wheat, seed corn, radish and carrot seed, and many different varieties of vegetable and reclamation grass seed.
In 1982, Keith and Anna formed Herrman Northwest, Inc. and Keith served as president until his death. The farming business that Keith and Anna formed has grown and is still going strong under the management of their children. Keith and Anna were also active in the Franklin County Farm Bureau for many years. In 1985, Keith served as president, and was active in many local and national issues that affected small business and the farming community.
Keith and Anna were charter members of the First Baptist Church of Connell where Keith served as a deacon until the last few years. Keith had a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ and introduced many friends and family to Christ. Keith was instrumental in building the current sanctuary building and was always willing to help others behind the scenes. Keith was a generous person and supported many different missionaries and missions to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to aid those less fortunate than himself. He always gave God the glory for any successes that he had.
Keith and Anna were also active in the Flying Farmers where Keith found others who loved aircraft and flying. Keith owned three different aircraft during his life and his daughter, Robin still flies his Cessna 182 that he loved so much. In 2006, Keith received the prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award presented by the FAA for over 50 years of safe flight. He made his last flight as pilot in command in 2003 at the age of 81.
He is survived by his wife Anna; his children, Paul (Cynthia) Herrman of Mesal Wash., Robin Herrman of Connell, Wash., Heidi (James) Matsumura of Cashmere, Wash.; his sisters, Angela (Fred) Flory of McMinnville, Ore., Ellen Gregg of Missoula, Mont., Ruth (Duane) Buchtel of Walla Walla, Wash.; his brother-in-law, Colin Hamberg of Estero, Fla.; his five grandchildren, Jason (Asa) Herrman, Sarah Herrman, Jenna Herrman, Brian Matsumura and Keith Matsumura; and his loving caregivers, Kerri Malbeck, Lucy Ezquivel, Leticia Marroquin, Neta Taimani, Romelia Borrego and Miriam Longoria.
He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Harriet Hamberg.
Special thanks are also given to cousin Craig Millage and nephew Kelly Gregg for their faithful assistance in Keith’s care.
Graveside services for family will be held at Mountain View Cemetery in Connell, Wash., at 10:30 on Saturday, March 9.
A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church beginning at 11:30, also on March 9th. The church is located at 664 North Columbia Avenue in Connell. Stevens Funeral Home has set up a website with additional information and an online guest book. www.tinyurl.com/keithherrman
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following two memorials: Building Fund at First Baptist Church, PO Box 68, Connell, WA 99326, 509-539-2131; and Herrman Family Grant, Corban University, Advancement Office, 5000 Deer Park Dr SE, Salem, OR 97317, 503-589-8186 (contact person, Darrel White)