BELGRADE -- Ronald Lee Herrick, 79, of Belgrade, Mount Vernon and Massachusetts, died Dec. 27, 2010, at the Augusta Rehabilitation Center. His wife, Cynthia, and his sister, Virginia, were by his side. Ron had been fighting courageously for recovery following heart surgery. He often said, "No matter what happens, I've had 79 good years, no complaints."
Several years passed before many people knew about Ron the medical pioneer. He hardly ever mentioned it unless someone asked him. It was not something that came up in ordinary conversation. At the age of 23, Ron was the donor in the world's first successful organ transplant, a kidney to his twin brother, Richard, in 1954, at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, now Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. At a time when organ transplants were relatively unknown, Ron was willing to take the risk that gave his brother eight more years of life. Richard married his recovery room nurse, Clare Burta, and was the father of their daughters, Marjorie and Linda.
Ron was the older of the twins born to Marjorie and Van Buren Herrick Jr., on June 15, 1931, in Worcester, Mass. Ron's early life was spent on the family farm in Rutland, Mass. He attended school in Rutland and graduated from Rutland High School in 1949.
During the Korean War, he was an Army sergeant in charge of a radio station in Germany, and was honorably discharged from the service in 1953. Then, on June 20, 1959, he married Cynthia Barnes of Marlboro, Mass. From Worcester State College, he received a bachelor's degree in 1958 and a master's degree in 1960. For 37 years, Ron was a gifted math teacher in Northboro, Mass., Winthrop, Maine, and the University of Maine at Augusta.
Moving to Maine in 1968, Ron enjoyed life on Flying Pond in Mount Vernon -- swimming, fishing, boating and snowmobiling. With his double track Ski Doo #209, he laid trails that had never before seen snowmobiles in the Mount Vernon/Vienna area. He was the "official" trail master. For many years he led the way on all the trips with family and friends. A math teacher by profession but a farmer at heart, Ron raised heifers and cut hay for nearly 30 years on the small farm he bought in Mount Vernon in 1970. With his John Deere 330 and 20 acres of land, he finally had the farm he had always wanted. While living in Mount Vernon, he also served as selectman for several years. In 1997, no longer able to do the farming he was used to, Ron, with his wife, Cynthia, had a new house built on Belgrade Stream and sold the farm to their nephew, Scott Herrick. Ron was the caretaker of the farm until Scott and his wife, Betsy, moved to Maine.
Ron is survived by Cynthia, his devoted wife of 51 years; his sister-in-law, Clare Herrick, niece Margie Hinrichs, her husband, Tom, their son, Daniel, and niece Linda Herrick, and her husband, Jim Winslow, all of Scarborough; Ron's older brother, Van Herrick, and his wife, Carole, of Barrington, R.I.; his nephew, Scott, his wife, Betsy, of Mount Vernon and their children Kiera, Jamieson, Melissa and Samantha; and niece Tracey Eden and husband Bill of Bristol, R.I.; Ron's sister, Virginia Griffin, nephew Jay Griffin, both of Rutland, Mass.; and nephew Lee Griffin his wife, Andrea, children Douglas, Adam and Paul Griffin, all of Paxton, Mass.; a brother-in-law, Gordon Barnes, his wife, Roberta, of South Boston, Va.; nephews Brian Barnes, Steven Barnes, Michael Barnes; and nieces Laurie Pelletier and Jessica Anders. Also surviving are several cousins and a great number of friends.
Ron is predeceased by his parents; his twin brother, Richard; his brother-in-law Robert Griffin; and his nephew Mark Griffin.
Friends and relatives are invited to visit from 1 to 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, at Roberts Funeral Home, 62 Bowdoin St., Winthrop, where a memorial celebration of Ron's life will follow the visitation at 2 p.m., with the Rev. Donald Davenport officiating. Interment with full military honors will be held in the spring at Mt. Vernon Community Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ron's name to the Kennebec Kidney Center, 164 Civic Center Dr., Augusta, ME 04330; or to the
Inc., 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016.
Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.khrfuneralhomes.com.