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San Antonio supporter Joe Herrmann, 90, dies

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2002


SAN ANTONIO -- Joe Herrmann last year told a group of friends that somehow he never got around to making a financial fortune, but he made up for it with a lifetime of friends and family.

SAN ANTONIO -- Joe Herrmann last year told a group of friends that somehow he never got around to making a financial fortune, but he made up for it with a lifetime of friends and family.

At 2:25 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 11, 2002), the local entrepreneur, banker, developer and politician died at his home, along a street named for him. He was 90.

Mr. Herrmann became a small-town legend as he built businesses, served in city and county governments and countless civic groups, and helped create the San Antonio Credit Union, the county fair board and Pioneer Florida Museum and Village.

"We may have missed the millions of dollars, but we sure had fun with what part of the millions we had," he said as he told his life story to a group of friends last year.

His son, Eddie, said Tuesday that Mr. Herrmann had been in failing health and pined for his wife of 65 years, Rose, who died last year.

"Daddy has been wanting to go to heaven," Eddie Herrmann said. "We're going to miss him. He was a great influence on so many lives all across Pasco County."

San Antonio Mayor Roy Pierce said Mr. Herrmann's death left a hole in the community.

"He dedicated most of his life to serving civic organizations and the city," Pierce said. "He is an example of what somebody can do with their life."

Pierce said in addition to the good deeds Mr. Herrmann did publicly, he did others behind the scenes.

He said Mr. Herrmann was known to quietly help students pay for college. He donated to city causes. And a few years ago, when the city had no money to replace hard metal chairs for city commissioners, Mr. Herrmann anonymously donated six padded, leather seats.

In April, the city honored Mr. Herrmann by changing the name of Park Street to Joe Herrmann Drive. The street runs in front of his home.

When he learned of the honor, Mr. Herrmann said, "I pretty well love this town."

Mr. Herrmann's family moved to Florida in 1914 and settled in San Antonio in 1925.

He got his start in the working world at age 5, delivering bread for his parents' bakery. He later delivered newspapers and then was a caddy at the old golf course. When the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club opened on the land that once held the old course, Mr. Herrmann was there to cut the ribbon.

Mr. Herrmann dabbled in radio sales back when they were dubbed superheterodynes, and he brought some of the earliest electric household appliances to San Antonio buyers. He later got into the bottled gas business and was active on the home front during World War II. He was a top war bond salesman, and he specialized in helping residents get by when materials were strictly rationed.

He was among the town's first property developers and helped found the Traveler's Rest mobile home community north of San Antonio, which today has more than 1,200 residents. He also helped his father build the Jovita Building, which still stands along Curley Street.

In the 1950s, Mr. Herrmann was appointed by the governor to serve on the Pasco County Commission upon the death of Commissioner Arthur Schrader.

Schrader's grandson, County Commissioner Ted Schrader, remembered Mr. Herrmann fondly Wednesday.

"He was a visionary," Schrader said. "He was genuinely concerned about the direction of city government and this county."

Mr. Herrmann also served as mayor of San Antonio from 1957 to 1962.

Looking back last year on nearly eight decades in San Antonio, Mr. Herrmann said he was pleased with how the community evolved.

"I think it pretty much turned out the way the originators wanted it to," he said. "It's a nice, small community. I don't think it's supposed to be more. It's a good place to live."

Funeral arrangements had not been announced Wednesday.

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