Marc Herman’s Final Send-Off

By June 17, 2013
Marc and Royan Herman pose on horseback.

Marc and Royan Herman visit a Montana dude ranch. (Collection of Royan Herman)

Approximately 200 guests showed up at Peacock Hill Ranch Saturday night to bid a fond farewell to Marc Herman, a beloved figure in the Sunland-Tujunga equestrian community. As husband of 35 years to Royan Herman, Marc was half the team responsible for turning Peacock Hill into a little oasis for those horses lucky enough to call the place home.

Although Marc’s tastes ran more to aircraft than horse care, he followed the barnyard antics with tremendous enthusiasm and was wonderfully indulgent of hoofed activities. Over the years he was known to ride occasionally but he infinitely preferred the cockpit to a saddle. That didn’t prevent him from being an inspiration to everyone he met.

A Gary Cooper type, Marc exuded soft-spoken strength and a courtliness of manner that made him seem almost like he’d dropped in from another era. He was the embodiment of cowboy ethics, a man you’d trust on a handshakes and a smile. His courtesy and impeccable timing didn’t fail him even at the end.

He passed away two months before his 91st birthday. On April 19 Marc Herman’s “heart just gave out and he slipped quietly away,” Royan told friends via email the following day. His final gift, giving Royan a great reason to celebrate his extraordinarily full life even while her own heart was breaking. He would never want to say goodbye with anything less than a smile.

Marc Herman emerging from a bright yellow plane.

Marc and his beloved Aeronca LC. (Collection of Royan Herman)

Marc Herman was born June 20, 1922, in Hays, Kansas. Although his father was a dentist his grandparents were farmers, his heritage the Volga Deutsch – Germans who emigrated to Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great to cultivate land near the Volga River. His given name was Marcian.

“All he ever wanted to be was a pilot,” Royan remembered. “So when he was 18 his dad sent him to Wichita to learn to fly.” He joined the Army Air Corps and served in Germany and France, flying non-combat missions during WWII, raging since 1931. He couldn’t become a fighter pilot because he was color blind. Among his military accomplishments, he trained a regiment of women to fly so they could ferry B-52s. During the period when the Germans were surrendering in 1945, Herman briefly became the Burgermeister of a village.

After the war, Herman got his masters degree in aeronautical engineering. In 1949 he moved to Los Angeles. He espied Royan at a Knights of Columbus Halloween party in Glendale, and although he didn’t talk to her that night, he pestered a friend for details and tracked her down afterwards. They were married within a year. It was the second marriage for both.

Herman began working in real estate development and doing aerial work for the movie industry on the side. He was the  principal flier for The Aviator and La Bamba, among others. He loved tinkering with planes, and when he wasn’t working he could usually be found at his private hangar at Whiteman Airport in Pacoima. His Aeronca LC is on display at the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum in Hood River, OR.

Parachuter lands in horse riding arena.

The Peacock Hill 75th Airborne Cavalry touches down on Marc's 75 birthday. (Collection of Royan Herman)

For Marc’s 75th birthday Royan threw a party themed “The Peacock Hill 75th Airborne Calvary.” The ceremony was capped with three skydivers (including local resident Steve Van Duzen) landing smack in the center of the Peacock Hill arena. The photos of their many happy parties and times together were displayed around the house where his final farewell was staged on June 15.

The air was thick with reminiscences of Marc an expert pool player, a wonderful singer (whose very voice seemed to fill the room as his regular accompanist, pianist Archie Barkin, tickled the ivories to classic and big band tunes as a band of friends gamely tried to follow along). “I’m so glad you could be here to help send off my guy,” Herman told guests that evening. “He was “the love of my life, my best friend.”

In addition to his wife Royan, Herman is survived by his sons Judd and Marc Jr. and a granddaughter, Catherine. He will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know him.

Marc and Royan Herman post near a powder-blue 1950s Chevy.

Marc and Royan vacationing in Santa Ynez. (Collection of Royan Herman)

Marc and Royan Herman high-five on horseback in a green pasture.

Marc and Royan enjoy quality time in the saddle. (Collection of Royan Herman)

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