Cover photo for Gene Edwin Herrick's Obituary
Gene Edwin Herrick Profile Photo

Gene Edwin Herrick

July 26, 1926 — April 12, 2024

Rocky Mount

Gene Edwin Herrick

Gene Edwin Herrick, 97 of Rocky Mount, Virginia died April 12, 2024. He was born in Columbus Ohio, July 26, 1926. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ethel Jane McCoy Herrick and Walter Edwin Herrick of Columbus, Ohio, his maternal grandparents Elmer and Maggie Rapp McCoy, of West Jefferson, Ohio and paternal grandparents, George William and Mary Jane Chapman Herrick, of Columbus, Ohio. Also preceding him were the mothers of his children Shirley Loy Herrick, Nancy Skaggs Herrick, and Betty Tressel Herrick. Last but not least, his beloved pet cat and constant companion for 17 years, Lucky Herrick.

Surviving are his sons Christopher Edwin Herrick (Kim) of Gosport, Indiana and Mark Alan Herrick of Whitestown, Indiana, and his daughter Lola Herrick Reece (Jason) of Peterstown, West Virginia. Also surviving is Kitty Susan Hylton his beloved companion for 23 years who was an inspiration in his life. Also dearly loved were his 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Early in Herrick’s life, he was active as a newspaper carrier, a member of the Boy Scouts of America, both as a young boy, and later as a leader of Indian Guides, Cub Scouts, and Boy Scouts. At age 16 he went to work for The Associated Press in Columbus, Ohio.

Herrick spent 28 years as an AP photographer, photo editor, and writer. He covered 5 presidents and 9 vice presidents of the United States. He covered varied major news, politics, sports, as well as being a foreign correspondent during the Korean War.  Among major events he covered were coverage of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama in 1956 and later Kings’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1955 he covered the Emmett Till trial in Mississippi, the start of the Civil Rights Movement, and the riots in Clinton, Tennessee. Gene was named one of the “ 10 Essential Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement”. He has also spoken extensively about the Civil Rights Movement and his experiences as a journalist/photographer.

Following early retirement, he entered the field of Development Disabilities as an administrator with the Association for Developmentally Disabled. Later he served with the regional office of the Ohio Department of Disabilities. Both were located in Columbus, Ohio. Upon moving to Smith Mountain Lake, Franklin County, Virginia, he became the executive director of the Developmental Center of Franklin County for 10 years. Gene’s family then moved to Venice, Florida where he was a building superintendent for a church and later the admissions director for a local nursing home. During his absence from Virginia, the Piedmont Community Services Board of Franklin County Virginia honored him by naming a group home for the developmentally disabled “Herrick House”. He always considered the intellectually challenged among his best friends.

Gene returned to Franklin County, Virginia, his adopted home in 1996, where he served in many capacities. He volunteered as a tutor at 2 local elementary schools and served on various charitable boards of directors in Franklin County; the Perinatal Center, Helping Hands, and the Children’s Advocacy Programs of the Blue Ridge. 

Herrick authored 7 books including “Did I Ever Tell You the Story About…?”,a legacy for his children and friends including  the story of his life and his years with the AP. He wrote many “Interesting People” columns for the Franklin News Post. Herrick also wrote regularly for an international internet newsletter, for AP contributors published daily. Gene was honored as an inductee to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. 

Gene was a member of The Disciples of Christ Church, having attended Rocky Mount Christian Church and Boones Mill Christian Church. He served as an elder and board chairman at both churches. He also served as editor and publisher of the church newsletter at Boones Mill Christian Church.

Herrick had some philosophies for his life: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people.”   Also, from Emerson : “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Gene wanted to thank The Associated Press for providing him opportunities few others could receive, his “Connecting” friends, especially Paul Stevens, his wonderful loving children; Mark, Chris, Lola, and their families, Kitty’s family for welcoming him in, Reverends John Heck, Stew Royce, and Paul Stutzman, and his many friends and associates in Franklin County and around the world especially, Dr. Joe Blackstock of Roanoke,  Virginia .

The family would like to thank Carilion Hospice in Franklin County and Giles County, Virginia, Heritage Hall Nursing Home in Rich Creek, Virginia, his caregivers Melissa Hodges, Carolyn Wainwright, and Judy Baker. We wish to express a very special thank you to our much loved friend, Frances Sink for the many acts of kindness shown towards all of us. 

A Celebration of Life Service will be conducted at 2:00 PM, Saturday, May 4, 2024, at Rocky Mount Christian Church, 120 S Main St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151 with Rev John Heck, St. Peters Episcopal Church, Callaway, VA, officiating. The family will receive friends at 1:00PM before the service at the church. 

In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to make a donation may consider the following: Herrick House, 50 W Church St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151, CASA 300 S Main St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151, Boones Mill Christian Church 7950 Grassy Hill Rd, Boones Mill, VA 24065, Rocky Mount Christian Church, 120 S Main St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151, or a charity of your choice. 

Arrangements by Conner-Bowman Funeral Home & Crematory, 62 VA Market Place Drive, Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gene Edwin Herrick, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, May 4, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Rocky Mount Christian Church

120 S Main St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Rocky Mount Christian Church

120 S Main St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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