February 13, 1938 – August 31, 2022
By Helen Serras-Herman
Andrew Herman, known to most of us as Andy, was the most kind, loving man, always with a smile, a laugh, and often a joke. He loved his family and friends, and most of all, me - his wife and soul mate, Helen.
Andy was born in the coal mining region of St. Clair, Pennsylvania, the son of a coal miner. He grew up with poverty surrounding him, and knew that his ticket out was education. He was lucky to be accepted into Thaddeus Stevens Trade school (today Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology) in Lancaster, where he graduated as radio and TV mechanic
In 1958, he voluntarily joined the US Army, and served for three years as radio and communications specialist, being deployed to Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. He became a sergeant SP5.
Upon his honorable discharge, he pursued his dream and received his B.S. electrical engineering degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey in 1972. His aeronautical electrical engineering career spanned his entire life, and took him around US and the world, including Germany, France, and in Shiraz, Iran, where he stayed for three years teaching engineers until 1979.
Andy was a man of the world, open to all cultures, and spoke several languages. He had a tremendous interest and love for archeology and history. Andy was especially fascinated by the mining history of gold and minerals, and this thirst for knowledge brought him into the world of gemstones. While living in New Jersey, he took the GIA gemology course in New York City and graduated as a Graduate Gemologist (GG) in 1988.
After Andy moved to Maryland In 1991, he started his small business, Nature’s Bounty, selling minerals and rough lapidary materials, and participated in local gem and mineral shows. He became a member of the Gem Cutters Guild in Baltimore, and the Chesapeake Gem & Mineral Society of which he served as President in 1991-92 and received the prestigious Grace Robinson Award in 1997 for his service to the club.
He learned to cut and facet gemstones, and started buying gems for his own cutting, especially tourmalines and sapphires from Montana that he loved. Later, he focused and loved cutting opals, especially black opals and matrix opals from Australia. Andy’s motto, the “hobby gone mad” as he joked about it, illustrates the gem “addiction” that many of us in the rock and gem world develop.
We met at local club meetings and gem shows in Maryland and fell in love passionately. We got married among friends and family in June of 1996 at the old Greek Orthodox Church in Annapolis. We lived in Davidsonville, Maryland, near Annapolis, where Andy worked at ARINC, Inc. as Principal aeronautical electrical engineer specializing in test system intergration programs from 1991 until 2002.
A few years after Andy retired from his engineering career we moved to Rio Rico, in 2005. We both truly enjoyed living in Southern Arizona, steps away from the border, benefiting from the multi-cultural environment. We visited almost every corner of the state - mountains and desert, historical attractions, museums, and mines, active and closed.
Even though the business, the Gem Art Center, was in my name only, Andy supported my artwork and career and helped wherever he could. Over the years, always together, we participated in gem and mineral shows and traveled to many places, especially the Western US States, England, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and several times to Greece. Some trips were for pleasure, many for business, often combining both. We had an amazing life together, close to family and many friends. In 2021 we held a wonderful celebration for our 25th Anniversary.
Andy is an Honorary Lifetime member of the Chesapeake Gem & Mineral Society in Maryland, a member of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society, and Lifetime member of the Old Pueblo Lapidary Club, and the Rio Rico Historical Society. He loved western mining history and enjoyed going to the Old Tucson Studios and Tombstone to watch the historical gunfights and events.
Andrew Herman passed away peacefully at his beautiful home with me by his side, after declining health due to vascular dementia. He received amazing care for the past several years from the most caring doctors and staff at the VA in Tucson. For the last month he was lovingly cared by Soulistic Hospice home health care. Andy is survived by me, his son Michael Herman who lives in Massachusetts, and nieces and nephews who live in Pennsylvania. He was the oldest of five siblings, who have all passed away.
Everyone knows Andy’s endless love for me; his support and encouragement for my artwork, and his editorial help with my articles, helped me grow and flourish as a gem artist, vendor, and writer. I owe him my gratitude for being my biggest fan, but most of all for being my best friend, soul mate and my sweetie.