The Herring Memorial: A Lasting Labor of Love

In June 1977 my wife, Wanda, and I moved to Waco across the street from Jack and Daphne Herring. Both were deeply involved in the life of Baylor University. Jack was director of the Armstrong Browning Library for 25 years and also taught in the English department until he retired in December 1997. Daphne worked in Development for Development Vice President Tom Parrish.

In 1980-81, Wanda and I went to Beijing, China, where I taught in a university. Upon our return, Jack read my daily journal and was impressed by the life Wanda and I had experienced in Beijing. Jack and Daphne soon left to teach in the same school. When they returned to Waco a year later, we continued our close relationship.

Jack died of a heart attack on July 30, 1999. I was in shock, especially since I had just talked with him on the telephone only the evening before. Time passed, a difficult time for Wanda and me, because one good friend had died, and a few weeks later it was as though he had never existed.

The reaction to Daphne’s death on June 1, 2004, was much the same. I discussed with Wanda my amazement that two wonderful friends could simply pass away never to be mentioned again in spite of the fact that both had devoted their lives to Baylor University. I also told her that I was going to do something about it, although I had no idea what.

I later talked with John Wilson, director of Library Advancement, and he agreed that an endowed book fund in honor of the Herrings would be appropriate. The interest from the endowment would be used to purchase books and manuscripts for the Armstrong Browning Library. I began by making an appeal to members of my own department— the English department. I then sent out a letter explaining the project to family, former friends and colleagues of the Herrings. Because of their contributions, some large, some small, the Herring Memorial Fund now totals approximately $18,000.

Wanda and I still miss the Herrings, but we take some solace in knowing that they will be remembered through purchases made from the fund for the Armstrong Browning Library. Furthermore, we hope that the Herring Memorial will stand as a model for others to follow.

In the 29 years I have been teaching at Baylor, I have seen very little in the way of colleagues honoring colleagues and even less in the way of colleagues honoring former colleagues. We owe it to those among us who have given their lives to the high calling of teaching to recognize them, and we owe an even greater debt to those who have gone before us. I am glad I persisted. I am glad I found a way, with the help of many others, to say thank you to our friends and colleagues Jack and Daphne.

- Dr. J. R. LeMaster
Professor, Baylor University