February 29, 1932 – August 21, 2020
Raymond Herber ’57 was born Feb. 29, 1932, and died suddenly Aug. 21, 2020.
Throughout his 65-year career at Loma Linda University, Ray Herber was not your usual visionary dreaming impossible dreams. No, he was uniquely effective, preternaturally loyal, multitudinously active, and utterly indispensable. That’s hardly the beginning.
The Alumni Association was Ray’s prime loyalty. He was a one-man Alumni Association, a walking alumni directory. Serving in every capacity from president to chief financial officer to errand boy, he devised and funded premiums for contributing alumni, urging membership and himself surreptitiously but profligately funding membership for many deceased alumni.
For corporate LLU, Ray recruited faculty and set up and solicited over $20 million of endowed professorial chairs stipulating responsibility and accountability, not ad lib use like Amazon gift cards. He also set up a myriad of student funds (one bears the Herber family name). A member of boards of trustees and a joiner (from San Bernardino Medical Society to the local Doll Club), Ray regularly wound up president.
Always these were central: policy, finance, advice, loyalty—pursued doggedly by personal contact rather than mass events. Humble and respectful, Ray never spoke ill of anyone, regardless. Upon others he heaped honors, never himself.
O that speaking voice, epitomizing his uniqueness! Deep, melliferous, manly, soft yet commanding, no nonsense, unhurried and unchanging regardless of topic, often with wit nobody caught. His was the perfect telephone voice. He may have seemed eccentric for eschewing the computer and thus email in favor of hand-drawn graphs and drafts, and the telephone, his tool for reaching out. Sounding like a radio announcer of classical music, he must have spent years on the phone quietly soliciting, urging.
Top of his class, he interned in Los Angeles county and served in the United States Naval Reserve at El Toro Air Base. He completed an internal medicine residency at White Memorial Hospital and a GI fellowship at Washington University with research on lactase deficiency. He was LLU emeritus professor of medicine, chair of the department of gastroenterology, founder of the GI fellowship. Loved teaching, not at a lectern but one-on-one.
As a practicing physician Dr. Herber was exemplary, adored by his patients and families. Legends abound of lives owed to him or of his personally arranging stat appointments. The soul of kindness and affability, he would hand-deliver church bulletins to shut-ins before church services were videoed. Or at eventide, accoutered in colorful Hawaiian shirt and lei, just sitting and waving to passing friends.
A virtuoso of the needlepoint. Writer/editor of his college newspaper and yearbook and author of three hardback books for the Alumni Association. A patron of the arts—notably the Loma Linda Academy string program and the Redlands Symphony Orchestra—and the LLU Faculty Portrait Gallery, which I painted. Conscious of LLU’s extraordinary heritage, he was my agent, loyal promoter, idea-man, iron-fisted LLU faculty posing scheduler and enforcer, even secret funder, as I chanced to find out much later. Without Ray the gallery would not exist, much less have been hung, which he did personally, twice.
Where would such a man come from? From Shattuck, Oklahoma, a small town with an enclave of Prussian expatriates from colonies in Volga-Russia lured there by Catherine the Great. Ray, the youngest of five brothers, grew up on a farm as an unquestioning Adventist, milking cows, being economical, precise, working like a dog the livelong day, speaking German, born on a leap year. He died at age 22, er, 88.
From such stock, Dr. Herber believed LLU was founded by God according to the blueprint and expected the recipients of his many enablements to manifest the same spirit. In recent years I sensed his disappointment with the newer generations that have not been altogether mindful of economic fundamentals or our blueprint.
Ray is survived by son, Steven C. Herber ’86 (plastic and reconstructive surgery, president of Adventist Health, St. Helena); daughters, Susan Mace (dental hygienist) and Sandra Fisher (CPA and senior administrator LLU Department of Medicine); five grandchildren; and his wife, Marilyn D. Herber ’58, LLU OB-GYN faculty, now an Alzheimer victim.
(Source: Wesley Kime ’53-A)