Robert Martin Herman
Robert Martin Herman was born in Fargo, North Dakota, November 21, 1937. His friends called him Bob. His grandkids called him Papa (or Grandpa). Some people called him Bobby. A few of us were blessed to simply call him dad. Bob passed away peacefully in his Burlington, WA home on August 11, 2020. He was preceded in death by his brother John. He is survived by his wife Kaye, sister Pat, daughters Cindi Herman, Kathi Striggow, Lauri Funk, and Kristi Herman, his son Blake Barthelmess and their families.
Bob’s parents moved from Fargo to Seattle when he was just three. They moved on to Nome, Alaska when Bobby turned eleven. Boarding a ship, they set off from Seattle bound for Seward - a ferry ride that should have taken only a few days, but due to an earthquake the trip took almost two weeks. Bob recalled that “everybody on the boat got sick except him.”
Bob played basketball throughout high school. In the words of classmate and friend, Ronnie Engstrom “Bobby was the best we had. I mean he could really play! Nobody could jump like Bobby.” His team won the state championship when he was a senior in 1955. Bob loved the outdoor adventure that Nome provided, whether that was heading out to Dexter on his dog team, cross country skiing or simply roaming the hills in search of treasure. While in Nome, Bob met his first wife and mother to his daughter, Jeanne Boucher.
He spent some time as a non-commissioned officer in the National Guard, supporting the interests of the USA during the Cold War. He loved to recall the opportunity he had to take his troops down to Fort Ord from Alaska. He lived in Kodiak for a while and eventually moved to Fairbanks.
After a while Bob found his calling or maybe his calling found him and he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and proceeded through the first apprenticeship program in the State of Alaska. Bob took to the work like a duck to water. He had a real gift for spatial visualization which helped him to excel as a lineman. He was also a natural leader (a force of nature) and quickly found himself leading the line crew. After paying his dues climbing poles, he had an opportunity to become an electrical contractor. He, together with his partners, purchased Grasle Electric in Fairbanks, Alaska in the early 1980s. Bob and his crews were responsible for tying Alaska’s power grid together from north to south. Bob eventually became a governor for the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). He was always a strong advocate for both the IBEW and the relationship to NECA.
Bob remarried to Kaye in 1981. Bob was an avid sportsman, he loved to fish and hunt. He was a pilot. He ran the rivers in Alaska. He sailed the NordicCat motor sailor – Queana – he and Kaye owned, from Anacortes, Washington to Mexico. Bob and Kaye loved to travel, from Asia, to the Yucatan, to points across the U.S. One of his classic sayings was “it only costs a nickel more to go first class.” And that was how he lived his life.
He and Kaye spent many years entertaining friends and enjoying the beauty of their homes in Maui, Hawaii, where he learned to SCUBA dive and improved his sailing skills. Oh… and he loved to golf. Ultimately, he was able to tick off many of the items on his bucket list, joining his son for a trip to celebrate his Norwegian heritage, attending all four major golf championships, and returning to Nome to say goodbye.
Robert Martin Herman – Bob, Bobby, Dad – lived life fully. And true to form, he had to have both the last laugh and the last word. No sooner had this proud lineman and electrical contractor passed away then the power went out to the family home. The dispatched line crew stood across the street simply scratching their heads. The power came back on only as he drove away for the final time. That was his sense of humor. Rest well dad, you will be missed. To share memories of dad, Bob, Bobby, please sign the online guestbook at http://www.evanschapel.com/obituary/bob-herman