Of Saint Paul
Died July 26, 2020, of complications from COVID-19. “Georgie” was born in St. Paul December 12, 1931, to George Washington Herman and Grace Martineau Herman. She attended Horace Mann in Highland Park, University High in Minneapolis and then entered the University of Minnesota where she earned a degree in Business Administration. Georgie had excellent grades in college but upon graduation in 1953 she already realized the management ladders in the corporate world at that time were not exactly wide open to women. She had been working as a part-time librarian in the University’s Industrial Relations Department. When she graduated that job was offered to her on a full-time basis. She took it and turned it into a career. Over the next 48 years she was able to take a small, unorganized collection of materials and slowly build it into one of the best human resources and industrial relations libraries in the nation. In 2001, when she retired, the Carlson School of Management, “in tribute for her 48 years of dedicated service developing a premier collection used by faculty, students and professionals,” renamed the library the Georgianna E. Herman Reference Room. Georgie was also twice honored by the students with the Herbie Award; received the Human Resources Professionals of Minnesota Excellence Award; and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota Alumni Society. Georgie once said, “I know I don’t look like a person who has a library named after her but you can’t imagine how much fun that is.” Indeed, although Georgie and her family knew some hard times—her father died suddenly in 1940 when Georgie was still in elementary school--Georgie was a free spirit who managed to find fun in almost everything she did. Her sunny disposition remained the hallmark of her personality throughout her life. Until moving to Sunrise Senior Living in Roseville last October, Georgie had lived happily since 1936 in the home her parents built in Highland Park. Like her mother, who died in 1983, Georgie enjoyed entertaining and hosting dinner parties. She was an avid miniaturist and amassed a large collection of doll houses and furnishings. Her greatest pride and joy, however, was her garden. Her annual garden party was a tradition. In her last decades, with the help of her longtime landscaper, Jim Rantala,-- “My Jim” she called him--she oversaw many improvements that turned her large wooded back yard into a uniquely secluded Eden.
In her youth Georgie had spent many summers in St. John, a small town near the North Dakota/Canada border, to which her grandparents on her mother’s side (Martineau) had migrated from Quebec in the 1880s. Georgie’s grandparents were prominent pioneer settlers in St. John. They started North Dakota’s first telephone company, ran a general store and resort hotel for many years and raised a large family. Georgie was proud of her French Canadian heritage, habitually sprinkled her conversation with French phrases, and longed to revisit the area where she had learned so much in her youth. She credited that early experience of small town life with helping to equip her for the life she intentionally set out to live as an independent woman.
Expressions of gratitude are merited for a great many who helped Georgie navigate the final leg of her earthly voyage, including the staff and care givers of Sunrise of Roseville, Touching Hearts at Home, Home Instead and the Highland Block Nurse Program, with special mention for the home team of Mister B, Randi, Julie, Susie, Jim, Hilary and others without whom it would have been impossible for Georgie to have remained in her home for as long as she did.
Georgie was preceded in death by her parents and one younger brother, Karl. She leaves many friends, including special friend, Hank Borg (Barb), of Roseville, who served with Georgie’s brother in the U.S. Army, and who has been a faithful brother to both Karl and Georgie ever since. She is also survived by a host of Martineau cousins, descendants of her pioneer grandparents.
Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 o’clock a.m., Thursday, July 30, 2020, at Lumen Christi Catholic Community, 2055 Bohland Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55116. Burial at Calvary Cemetery.
Memorials preferred to the University of Minnesota Foundation for the Georgianna E. Herman Library of the Carlson School of Management or to Como Friends
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