A Neighborly People Person
Herman Broghammer, the first-generation son of German immigrants, led a life that was classically American. Civic- minded and neighborly, he moved his family from Queens to the suburbs of Long Island in 1971 in pursuit of the American dream: a house and yard, with space for the kids to play.
"We lived in an older apartment in Jackson Heights, the kind of place where nothing ever worked," said his wife, Ursula. "You'd turn on a hair dryer, and the fuses would blow." So they relocated to a quiet street in Merrick. Once there, the 58-year-old vice president at Aon Corp. put down roots.
"We liked the camaraderie of the neighborhood," said his wife. Broghammer joined the Knights of Columbus and was a perennial volunteer at local charity events such as the Town of Hempstead County Seafood Festival in Lido Beach, where he manned the "suds station," or beer tap, each year. Active in his church, Sacred Heart, he served as a eucharistic minister and was an enthusiastic member of the Holy Name bowling league. He had his neighbors in Merrick over to dinner, sometimes 24 at a time.
Broghammer liked people. "You know how some people get crankier as they get older?" said his wife. "He never did. He was always that gentle, sweet person." And he took care of those around him, she said.
He started early. His father died while Broghammer was still in his teens, so "he spent many years looking after his mother," said his wife, who met him when he was 20 and she was 16, back in their old neighborhood of Jackson Heights. The two wed five years later. Even after they moved to Merrick, Broghammer was constantly driving to his mother's to check in on her or do minor repairs.
Broghammer worked long hours at a series of insurance jobs to make sure that his children, John and Amy, were provided for. Both are in graduate school - John, 27, is pursuing a master's degree in business administration and Amy, 22, is studying speech pathology - and Broghammer was looking forward to retirement, just four short years away.
But it wasn't to be. Broghammer attended a meeting on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center's south tower on Sept. 11. His family held a memorial mass a few weeks later. He never got the chance to work on his golf swing as he had planned. "Now that we are empty-nesters," said his wife, "it looks like somebody didn't want that to happen." -Jennifer Smith
Profile published in NEWSDAY.