Roland Eugene Herbener
5 March 1923 - 6 December 2008
85 yr. 9 mo. 1 day

Teacher Page      WWII Story

Died December 6, 2008 in Portage, Michigan, Gene Herbener was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 5, 1923 to Harry N. Herbener and Helen (Miller) Herbener. He attended public schools in Newark, Delaware, graduating from high school in 1940. Prior to his entry into the Army of the United States in June 1943, he studied engineering for two and a half years at the University of Delaware. He was particularly proud of his army unit, the 475th Military Police Escort Guard Company, which sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on three round trips during the war bringing back German prisoners-of-war to the States. He wrote of these "non-adventures" in a book that appears on the Internet. After his retirement, he arranged a number of reunions of the company. After the war he completed a B.S. degree in chemistry and earned a teaching certificate at Western Michigan University under the G.I. Bill. He had married Thelma Jean VandenBerg of Kalamazoo while in the service and at the time of his Honorable Discharge from the Army had one son, Dr. Jon Herbener, a pediatrician. The Herbeners had another son, Kurt Herbener, deceased in 1992, and a daughter, Beth Hoffman, who preceded him in death on December 1, 2008. In addition to Jon, one daughter survives, Jane Herbener of Portage. Other survivors include a daughter-in-law, Seibra (Mrs. Jon) (Salisbury) Herbener; a granddaughter, Lynne (Mrs Jake) Neukom of Hillsdale; a grandson, Ted Hoffman in New Jersey; and three great-grandchildren. A granddaughter, Holly, died in 1992. Mr. Herbener taught mathematics and science at Fennville (Mich.) High School for three years before returning to the University of Delaware to earn a M.S. in Organic Chemistry using the balance of his G.I. Bill educational eligibility. He returned to Fennville for a fourth year. He taught in Fennville and Trenton (Mich.) High Schools for a total of 12 years. During this time in the summers he did further graduate work funded by the National Science Foundation this culminating in an M.S.T. in Chemistry Teaching from the University of New Hampshire in 1962. Professor Herbener entered the ranks of college teachers in the fall of 1961 at Hillsdale College (Mich.) where he was chairman of the chemistry department for 31 years. He pursued research in nitrogen heterocycles as a part of pre-doctoral studies in Chemistry at Ohio University during the 1960s. In addition to his love of Organic Chemistry, in the late '60s he became interested in computers and their application to the teaching of Chemistry. Commencing in the '70s he taught a beginning class in programming, at first in BASIC, later in FORTRAN. This he often referred to as "computing for poets" since it permitted him to teach students from fields other than those in the sciences. He retired from Hillsdale College as Professor Emeritus of Chemistry in 1992. After his retirement Mr. and Mrs. Herbener flew to England, France and Germany. Commencing in 1993 they took several trips to visit his cousins in Germany. Over the duration of three years they took cruises on the Rhine, Mosel, and Danube Rivers. Mrs. Herbener preceded her husband in death in 1997 after more than 52 years of marriage. After retirement, Mr. Herbener was president of the Mitchell Library Board and later an active member of the Hillsdale Community Library Board. He also pursued his interests in digital photography, genealogy and military history. Mr. Herbener has been cremated and his ashes, with military honors, will join those of his wife in Fort Custer National Cemetery. A Memorial Service will be held at a later date. The family suggests that memorial contributions in Mr. Herbener's memory be made to the Hillsdale Community Library, 11 E. Bacon St., Hillsdale, MI 49242. Local arrangements by Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Portage Chapel, 411 E. Centre Ave. 269-343-1508. Please visit online at to leave a condolence to the family.

Don't forget the the Hillsdale Community Library and the three clock faces on its tower. The clocks were placed as a  result of donations from two former Hillsdale residents. Jim McCall and Gene Herbener, who formerly served on the library board, donated the money to roughly cover the $16,000 needed to pay for the time pieces.

View the clock today:
PHOTOS Vern acquired.
Gene with Beth and Jane                                 FHS Banner created by Gene's wife Thelma

Gene's home South of  Otsego

Gene had lunch in 2005 with Vern in Otsego, eating one of favorite foods.

His oldest daughter, Beth, tragically also passed away just 5 days previous from a blood clot.

Beth Ann Hoffman, 58, died Monday (Dec. 1, 2008) in Irvington, N.Y. Born in Allegan, Mich., she lived in Tarrytown, N.Y., before moving to Bound Brook in 1990.
She was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, Bound Brook, serving as the clerk of session and was a member of the choir. She was also a member of the Women's Literary Guild.
Mrs. Hoffman was a managing editor for the Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington, N.Y. She was with the Foundation for more than 30 years and held many positions, including director of seminars and special assistant to the president.
Mrs. Hoffman is predeceased by her mother, Thelma Jean, and her brother, Kurt.
She is survived by her husband of 30 years, Peter, and their son, Theodore J., both of Bound Brook; her father, Eugene Herbener of Kalamazoo, Mich.; her borther, Jon Herbener of Hillsdale, Mich., and her sister, Jean Hebener of Portage, Mich.
Friends are invited to visit with family from 10:15 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Presbyterian Church, Bound Brook, followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. Arrangements are by Hagan-Chamberlain Funeral Home, Bound Brook.