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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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November 21, 2019

9/28/2019 7:30:00 AM
Dorthy Elizabeth Herman

Dorthy Elizabeth Herman, 92, a longtime resident of Harshaw, died Sept. 20, 2019 at Milestone Senior Living in Rhinelander.

The daughter of Fred and Agnes (Swartz) Busche, Dorthy was born June 6, 1927 in the town of Eau Pleine in Marathon County.

She was the second-youngest of 10 children. She attended elementary school in Stratford and graduated from Stratford High School.

After her family moved to Harshaw, Dorthy met Thomas Herman. They were wed Oct. 23, 1948 and were married for over 60 years before he died in 2012.

They had 12 children and farmed in Harshaw, growing potatoes.

Dorthy's life was marred by the early deaths of her three youngest sons.

Ben died of leukemia in October 1977 shortly after his 16th birthday. Greg died of colon cancer in June 2014 at the age of 50. Glen, Dorthy's youngest child, died suddenly of a heart attack in May 2016 at the age of 51.

Following Ben's 1977 death, Dorthy (along with her daughter Cindy) went through emergency medical technician training and was one of the first members of the town of Cassian's volunteer ambulance crew.

Throughout her married life, Dorthy was active in the Cassian community. She was a long-time member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rhinelander.

She was a member of Harshaw Helping Hands Auxiliary, which provided scholarships to students who had attended the Cassian school, held free annual Santa and Easter Bunny parties for children and supported food pantries. She was a long-time member of the local homemakers' group and was a PTA member.

Throughout her life, Dorthy enjoyed helping young people.

As a young woman she helped clear land to develop the site for the Camp Fire Girls Camp Birchrock, later she served as a Girl Scout leader and tutored children in reading at Cassian-Woodboro Elementary School.

She was a longtime poll worker for elections in the town of Cassian, enjoying the day of working and visiting with neighbors. She served on the town's committee to prepare a land-use plan. She also worked with the census when those years rolled around.

Dorthy was a member of the committee that planned and raised funds for the veterans' memorial at Union Grove Cemetery in Cassian.

Most of her married life, Dorthy planted huge gardens, canning and freezing produce for her large family. In later life, she found pleasure in tending her flower gardens and mowing with her riding lawnmower.

A favorite pastime for Dorthy and Tom was attending auctions. Dorthy told her daughters auctions were like treasure hunts. "(Sometimes) you buy a box of something that's mostly junk, and you find one thing that's really worthwhile, but you don't know what to do with the junk."

Dorthy traveled multiple times to Oregon, where extended family lives, and over the years, visited 16 states and Mexico. She said her most memorable trip was to Switzerland with her husband and seeing the beautiful flowers along Lake Geneva. Another more recent adventure was an Alaska cruise with her sister Joey.

Throughout her life, she enjoyed refinishing furniture and sewing. Several of her children cherish pieces of furniture she refinished for them, and the grandchildren were given handmade quilts, toys, backpacks and pillows. For many years, she and her daughter Sharon sold produce at the Rhinelander Farmers Market.

Over the years, she took several community education classes, including woodworking, candle making and cake decorating.

Dorthy's lifelong dream was to build her own home, and at 62 that came true when her children and grandchildren pitched in to make the new house a reality.

In her later years, Dorthy loved telling the story of taking her 90-year-old best friend, Gladys Johnson, on a trail ride with Dorthy's UTV. The vehicle got stuck in the swamp, and the pair walked out to the road to hitch a ride home.

In March 2016, Dorthy moved to assisted living at Milestone, where she lived until her death.

In May 2017, she celebrated her 90th birthday with a tea-party themed event attended by dozens of family and friends.

Besides her three sons and husband, Dorthy was preceded in death by her sisters Marian Busche and Isabelle Seaman and brothers Lawrence, Harold, Christian (Chris), William, Raymond and James Busche.

She is survived by nine daughters and sons: Judith (Roger) Wiff of Spring Valley; John (Jody) Herman of Rhinelander; Sandra (Joel) Herum of River Falls; Cynthia (David) Schmitz of Rhinelander; Peter (Donna) Herman of Menomonie; Sharon (Kenneth) Kremsreiter of Harshaw; Richard (Kelly) Herman of Harshaw; Laura (Robin Capen) Herman of Harshaw; and Gay (Jeff Christensen) Herman of Cottage Grove, Minn.

Survivors include her daughter-in-law Mindy Herman of Harshaw, her sister Josephine Oehlerking of Eagle Grove, Iowa, and sister-in-law Joyce Busche of Duluth, Minn.

She is also survived by 19 grandchildren, one step-grandchild, 16 great-grandchildren, seven step-great -grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in Rhinelander.

Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at Carlson Funeral Home and 10 a.m. Friday at the church.

You may leave your private condolences for the Herman family at

The Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) is handling the arrangements for Dorthy.

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