George William Herndon

George William Herndon, 81, resident of Thomasville, Georgia, and former resident of Tallahassee, Florida, died as the result of a car accident in rural Brooks County, Georgia, on June 21, 2013. His wife, Phyllis June Williams Herndon, 77, also died in the accident. Interment of their ashes was at Arlington National Cemetery on January 27, 2014 under cold sunny skies with full military honors.

Born in Russellville, Kentucky, George was the third of eight children born to Grover C. and Minerva M. Herndon. George played football for and graduated from Russellville High School. He served in the Kentucky National Guard and worked his way through Western Kentucky University. He later earned a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. As a career officer in the U.S. Army (Ordinance), he served from 1954 to 1973 and retired as a lieutenant colonel. He was an Army Ranger and fought with the 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star for heroic service. He also served with distinction in strategic positions at home and abroad, including Korea, Thailand and the Dominican Republic.

Following his Army career, George's second career was with the Florida Department of Transportation from 1974 to 1998. From 2000 to 2013, not content to retire completely, he worked as a business consultant and most recently as a federal mediator.

George was an inventor and held six patents, plus applications for others. His many other interests included restoring antiques, horticulture, astronomy, writing poetry and improving animal welfare.

Being raised on the farm where the Russellville High School now stands, George worked hard at his chores and contributed to the farm's success and the well-being of the large Herndon family. One of the "Eight Little Herndons," as they were known in Russellville, he is missed by the remaining seven, as well as his many other family members and friends.

He is survived by his two children, Harriet Jill Herndon (partner Bruce Rotter) and Howard William Herndon (wife Polly) and their two daughters, Hollis and Lanie. His seven siblings survive him: Grover M. Herndon; Minerva Van Wagner; Thomas C. Herndon, III; Cynthia Beard; Fann Lewis; Thetus Smith; and Ellen Groot. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and his first wife, Betty Lane Bird Herndon, whom he lovingly cared for at home through her illness. Also surviving him are his step-children, Renee Hansard, Matthew Hansard, Paul Hansard, Amy Gilbert and her daughter, Anna Grace.

A funeral service for George and Phyllis was held at the First Presbyterian Church of Thomasville, Georgia, on June 29.

Published in News Democrat Leader from Jan. 28 to Jan. 29, 2014