Donald Louis Herman, 91, of Grand Rapids, MI lost his battle with cancer comfortably at home on October 11, 2019.
Don was born October 13, 1928 in Brooklyn, NY to John R. and Rose Herman. He was a professor, writer, traveler, actor, husband, father, and grandfather.
Don moved with his family to Detroit at age 6. He graduated Detroit’s Central High School and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan majoring in political science and Spanish.
In 1950 Don entered the army originally intending to work as a Spanish interpreter, but was sent to Japan to serve 2½ years teaching English. On weekends, he played at piano bars. He left the army with the rank of staff sergeant; after working briefly in the family business he enrolled in Wayne State University to study for a master’s degree in political science, emphasizing Latin American politics.
In the summer of 1959, while visiting Mexico City to study at the University, Don met his soon to be wife, Bluma. They married in January 1960 and moved to Ann Arbor where Don earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1964.
From 1964 to 1980, Don was a professor of Latin American political science at Grand Valley State University. He served as the Chairman of Kent County's Democratic Party in the late 1960’s and was a delegate at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention.
Don founded the Latin American Studies Center at Michigan State University where he worked from 1980 to 1995 as an adjunct professor. During his professional career he authored 5 books and numerous articles on Latin American politics.
Don’s real love was theater. In 1972, he and Bluma joined a small couples group which met monthly at one another’s homes to read plays. He was on the Actors’ Theatre board and started acting classes. His first stage role was as the pawn broker in Actors’ Theatre’s production of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” in 1985. He performed in other local productions and was a founding member of Jewish Theater Grand Rapids in 1994.
Later in life, Don renewed his love of playing piano and took jazz piano lessons from Jack Kimmel. Over the years Don, Jack, and his wife Mary became very close friends.
Don is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years Bluma Herman, daughter Debbie, sons Randy (Nicole), Jeff (Julie), and grandchildren Andy, Melissa, Ethan, Kaitlyn, and Kaya.
A special thank you to Don's loving and compassionate caregivers - the nurses and staff of Spectrum Health Hospice, and Aurelia Catzier and Carmen Acevedo.
Funeral services will be held at Temple Emanuel on Wednesday October 16 at 11:00am. Don will be laid to rest at the Oakhill Cemetery in Grand Rapids. Memorial donations may be made to the Jewish Theatre of Grand Rapids and Spectrum Health Hospice of Grand Rapids.
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