St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

A picture of clean, orderly, responsible living

He's remembered for his maturity and his passion for family, cars and helping others.

By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff Writer
Published December 16, 2007

Christopher Herring died Wednesday in a Largo motorcycle crash. He was 25.

LARGO - When he was a little boy, his mother found him in the garage - he had jacked up the family Toyota and was spinning the wheels.

Christopher Herring had to have his hands on things. Had to be doing something.

He was an impeccably neat child. He rearranged salt and pepper shakers on restaurant tables. When his mother, Barb Thomas, put his toys away on the shelf, he corrected her: "No, Mom. That doesn't go there."

At Indian Rocks Christian School, he played trumpet in the marching band. He was student director, a first chair musician and a band officer. He loved the clean, methodical formations. He loved the noise and the energy.

Mr. Herring's father was absent most of his life, Thomas said. Her son wanted to be more.

He volunteered at the Pinellas Association for Retarded Children, where his grandfather, Curt Thomas, was chief executive for 13 years. He joined the St. Petersburg Civitan Club, a service group. He was a serious Christian who saw his grandfather as a role model.

"At a very young age, he took a lot of responsibility," said Thomas, 49. "He's always been very mature for his age."

But he had fun, too. He liked to try on stupid hats, invent sayings and play practical jokes. One year, he drove around with friends after Christmas, collected old trees from curbs and dumped them in a teacher's front yard.

Mr. Herring clung to his family. They never said goodbye without saying "I love you."

* * *

When he was in high school, his mother found him cleaning light bulbs above the bathroom mirror. It was the night before an exam. He should have been studying.

But being a bookworm wasn't going to work. In an English class, he wrote down his plans for after graduation - he wanted to work with cars.

He watched a television informercial for Universal Technical Institute, an automotive school in Houston. He signed up.

These books, he liked. He studied constantly. He later trained in an elite Mercedes program and was hired at Crown Eurocars in St. Petersburg as a Mercedes technician, his family said.

He loved the cleanliness and luxury of the showroom. He wore the Mercedes logo. He drove a Mercedes. He named his cat Mercedes.

His toolbox was gleaming and in perfect order. And after long days working on cars, his perfectly styled hair didn't budge.

* * *

His mother loved to hear the phone ring. His calls were spur of the moment - "Mom, get up, let's go to breakfast." Or, "Mom, I'm coming over."

He wanted to pay off his student loans, his Mercedes and his motorcycle, a 2006 Suzuki GSXR. He wanted to buy a house.

He wanted to visit the Mercedes plant in Germany. He wanted his new Mercedes hood ornament, which still hasn't arrived in the mail.

Mr. Herring summed himself up on his MySpace page.

"Going out with my friends, cruising on the bike, loving life, and living one day at a time as if it was the last, taking everything in."

Wednesday night, his motorcycle collided with a car on Seminole Boulevard. Mr. Herring died. He was 25.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or 727 893-8857.


Christopher Herring

Born: Sept. 21, 1982.

Died: Dec. 12, 2007.

Survivors: mother, Barb Thomas; brother, Michael Herring; grandparents, Curt and Peggy Thomas; aunts, Tracy Chastain and Susan Kubler; seven cousins.

Service: Visitation at 1 p.m., service at 2 p.m. today, First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Donations to the Chris Herring Memorial Scholarship Fund, care of Anderson McQueen Funeral Home, 7820 38th Avenue N, St. Petersburg, 33710. Scholarship awarded to children of single parents.

[Last modified December 15, 2007, 21:42:08]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters