Connie Pillich: Remembering a lifetime of service

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 5, 2021

Ohio lost a giant this week with the passing of Herman Zerger.

I honor him as a veteran and a friend.

Zerger, born and raised in Monroe County, enlisted in the Army during World War II. He fought the fascists on the front lines in 31 battles in Italy and France.

Herman cast his first vote – for Franklin Delano Roosevelt – from a foxhole. He was taken prisoner by the German forces on Feb. 3, 1945, and held in a POW camp for 95 days.

Service to country and community ran strongly through Zerger’s blood. After WWII, he served for 10 years as a Special Duty Sheriff in Monroe County, and was elected five consecutive terms as Center Township Trustee. As Chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party for 45 years, Herman was the longest serving county chair in Ohio history.

I knew Herman for only 10 of his 97 years on this Earth. I knew him as a stalwart activist of the Democratic Party, tireless advocate for working families, and inspiring leader. Herman taught me that good humor and good deeds can go a long way toward improving one’s community while improving oneself.

Among Herman’s many military decorations are the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Croix de Guerre, Knight of the Legion of Honor and Valor Citation of Paris. He was a member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

As President John F. Kennedy remarked in 1963, “We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to merely utter words but to live by them.”

Thank you for your service, Herman Zerger. May we all live by your example.

Connie Pillich is a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives.