Robert L. Herget (1924-1981) grew up in Pekin, Illinois. At Pekin Community High School, he was student council president, football captain and a member of the National Honor Society. He received the Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award for high scholastic attainment in science studies. This national award recognized Herget’s outstanding accomplishments in science during his four years at the school.
He also excelled on the football field and basketball court. He played center for the high school and was named captain of the Chicago Daily News All-State Team. He was starting guard on Pekin’s basketball team. His first exposure to Aurora was in 1941 when he played basketball against East Aurora at their high school (now Waldo Middle School). After one semester at the University of Illinois, Herget left to join the Air Force, then known as the Army Air Corps, where he enlisted to become a pilot. His compassion was the reason he would be chosen to accompany the bodies of comrades killed in training to their home towns.
During the war, he served in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Palestine. Subsequent missions took him to Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, Austria, France and Germany. Being proficient in German, he transported and comforted the German wounded.
He was one of the few Americans to be behind Russian lines, ferrying American generals at the end of the war to meet their Red Army counterparts in Sofia, Bulgaria. Coming home in 1946, he was part of the tickertape parade in Manhattan that honored the Nezei.
Herget received a bachelor of science degree from Illinois State University. He then began his career in education in 1949 as a teacher and coach at Lincoln Elementary School. From 1951-1958, he taught and coached at West Aurora High School. During this time, he earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University (1953). Later, he served as dean of boys and principal at both Jefferson Junior High and Franklin Junior High. He also was appointed principal of Washington Junior High.
Herget left the district in 1965 to pursue his doctorate degree in education. A year later, he was appointed Kane County Assistant Superintendent of Schools. In addition, he helped create and was director of the Kane County Center for Children with Learning Disabilities in Geneva. In 1969 Herget became principal of Thornton Township High School, but returned to District 129 a year later as assistant superintendent of instruction, including duty as principal of the West Aurora High School North Campus. He held the position of assistant superintendent until his untimely death in 1981.
His many community activities include senior warden and church school superintendent at Trinity Episcopal Church, past president of the Aurora Kiwanis Club and the Blackhawk Boosters, member of the board of directors of the Aurora Urban League, Parents Without Partners and the Youth Services Bureau. Herget was married to Mary Ellen Herget. The couple had four children. Mr. Herget is buried at Lakeside Cemetery in Pekin, Illinois.
Herget is remembered as a fine gentleman, caring husband and father, prominent educator and mentor. He had an unusual combination of discipline and compassion. By living out the values of loyalty, honesty, unselfishness, patriotism, and humbleness, he was a role model to those whose lives he touched. The new school on Deerpath Road was named for Robert Herget in 2005. A few of the many comments offered prior to the naming ceremony include:
“As I traveled the halls of West as a student, Mr. Herget served as a role model for what a father who valued education would be. Then, as my principal at North Campus, he modeled true professionalism in educational leadership and collegiality. I treasure his memory as both a colleague and as a friend.”
“Bob was a great educator and a true friend of all students as well as a faculty member who was the epitome of character and integrity.”
“Mr. Herget was the embodiment of all the qualities, we as parents, would want in educators for our children today.”
“Red and blue flowed through Bob Herget’s veins. He was one of the most dedicated educators and devoted fans I have known in District 129.”
“Never ever did I see an angry Bob. He exemplified the caring, calm and supportive administrator.”
“I never heard Bob raise his voice when working through problem situations. His calm, assuring manner set the tone for compromise and resolution.”
“As an administrator, Bob led by insightful and practical principles.” “It was my pleasure to work closely with Bob Herget during many of his years in Aurora. No finer person has or will ever serve this district.”
robert L. Herget
West Aurora Teacher, Principal & Administrator for 27 years)
Herget Middle School
1550 Deerpath Rd, Aurora, IL 60506