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Gus Herzik

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Gus Herzik Obituary
Gus R. Herzik Jr. Lifelong Texan and consummate Aggie Gus R. Herzik Jr., 99, passed away peacefully in his sleep Monday March 4, 2013, the result of a fall at his home. Gus was born, the first of three children, to Gus Sr. and Adel Herzik on October 23, 1913, in Engle, Texas. His family was prominent in Fayette County where his father was a business owner, and also served a stint in the Texas Legislature. He graduated from Schulenburg High School in 1930 at the age of 16, and that fall began his quest for the first of his four degrees: BS, MS, and CE (Civil Engineer) from his beloved Texas A&M, and because of his distinguished record, he also was sent to and received the Master of Science from Harvard. He has had conferred upon him the title of P.E., signifying he was a registered professional engineer for the State of Texas. He began his long and impressive career in public service with the Texas Highway Department in 1936, following two years as a faculty member with the Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M. In 1937, he joined the Texas Department of Health and, with the exception of his four years of military service during World War II, he remained with the Health Department until his retirement in 1981. During WWII he served in the Sanitary Corps of the U. S. Army Medical Department as Theater Sanitary Engineer in the South Atlantic Theater, and finally in the Washington D. C. office of the Surgeon General of the U. S. Army. He held the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Retired Reserve. This was a source of tremendous pride for our family, and he passed this tradition of military service on to his grandsons, both of whom have served. One grandson is currently an Army Captain, having served 4 deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. With the Health Department, Gus served in the following capacities: District Engineer; Principal Assistant Engineer; Chief Engineer; Director, Division of Sanitary Engineering; Chief of Section, Environmental Health Services; and capping off his career with them as Deputy Commissioner for Environmental and Consumer Health Protection, the only Deputy Commissioner who was not an MD. One of the achievements he was most proud of was the fact that, as the person in charge of air and water quality for the state as Deputy Commissioner, he was able to perform this public service for the citizens of the State of Texas, which he loved almost as much as Texas A&M, for such a long time. The Section for which Gus assumed responsibility upon its creation in 1959 was a multi-division unit including product safety, food and drug, milk and dairy products, sea resources, vector control, occupational health and safety, and radiation control, as well as sanitary engineering, solid wastes, and wastewater technology. It covered a broad spectrum of environmental health, encompassing a number of fields of engineering specialization. He was the author of over sixty articles published in various trade and professional journals, and is co-author of several books dealing with the field of sanitary engineering. He is listed in Who's Who in Engineering, and his scholastic honors included membership in Tau Beta Pi and Delta Omega, honorary engineering and public health fraternities. Gus was the winner of the Clemens Herschel Prize for Meritorious Hydraulics while a student at Harvard, and was listed as a Distinguished Student at Texas A&M in 1933 and 1934. He was also a Diplomat of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. Gus was an alternate member and Past Chairman of the Texas Water Quality Board, and the Texas Air Control Board, among others. He was a Director or member of numerous foundations, councils, and Governor's committees, and has served as a consultant or lecturer to Texas A&M, The University of Texas, The University of Minnesota, the United States Public Health Service, the National Sanitation Foundation, and others. He was formerly a member of a long list of professional societies including the National Society of Professional Engineers; Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE), where he was on the board and various committees; and the Travis Chapter of TSPE, where he was named Engineer of the Year in 1962. Gus was a member of the Texas Public Employees Association (TPEA), as well as the Health Department Chapter of TPEA, where he was also a past board member. Gus lived life to the fullest, enjoying all aspects of it, and maintaining a vitality and youth beyond his years well into his 90's. His hobbies included music (playing various instruments and being a member of the Texas Aggie Band), woodworking, reading, and traveling among others. He took up snow skiing at the age of 50! Gus presided over the building of his home in Austin which he shared with his beloved wife Frances for many years, and built with his own hand the vacation home on Lake Travis, which for many years was a source of recreation for the family - and eventually the home they shared, prior to moving back to Austin in 1978. Gus could converse quite well on a whole variety of subjects. His knowledge, forthrightness, and strength of will was legendary in the family. His daughter will especially miss the great talks about A&M and Dallas Cowboys football, political banter, and dinner and drinks (including his favorite vodka martini) at our preferred Austin hangouts, including the Austin Club, where our family was a long-standing member. Gus and Frances all their lives led an active social life. They were blessed with friends too numerous to mention, with whom they partied and traveled over the years. Those travels included Europe, Russia, and practically everywhere but the Orient. Gus was preceded in death by his parents, brother and sister, two sons Gerald and Steven - and his much-loved Frances, to whom he was married for 63 years. He is survived by daughter Cathlyn, grandsons Josh and Clay, great-granddaughters Katie and Aimee, four nephews and their families, cousins Jack and Gary Herzik, and Suzie Hembree, and close personal friend Jerry Harris. Gus was a member of St. Theresa's Catholic Church. The family would like to offer special thanks to Seton Medical Center, 3rd floor especially, for their ministering to dad off and on during the past couple of years, Seton Cardiac Rehab, Family Eldercare (especially aide Sandra Holland), and Dr. Kenneth Kroll and Dr. Tuan Nguyen, for their devoted and conscientious care of dad. Visitation will be held at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 N. Lamar from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 21. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday March 22 in the chapel at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home at 3125 N. Lamar. Burial will follow at Mount Calvary. Special thanks to Monsignor Brooks, of St. Theresa's, who will preside at the service, and is a source of support to our family. We request that in lieu of flowers, if you so choose, to make a donation in dad's memory to the Texas A&M Association of Former Students; 505 George Bush Drive; College Station, Texas 77840, or to the Military Order of World Wars (MOWW) of Austin. Gig em! Obituary and guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 17, 2013
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