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Stephen Herman, 80, corporate attorney was ‘steady as a rock’

Obit phoMr. Steve Herman

Obit photo of Mr. Steve Herman

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Updated: November 10, 2012 6:15AM



Stephen Herman’s commitment to his family — and his family’s commitment to him — showed most every weekday as his four children tore down a Winnetka street to meet him when he got off the train.

“A stream of dads would be coming from the train,” said Ellie Levinson, Mr. Herman’s eldest daughter. Like clockwork, Mr. Herman would be home for dinner — and like clockwork, Mr. Herman’s four kids would run down Cherry Street to greet him.

Mr. Herman, a longtime Winnetka resident, was a corporate lawyer, with years spent at the Wurlitzer instrument company and Household International.

It was a demanding career, but he never let it get in the way of making it home for dinner to be with his family. Once at the table, Mr. Herman would lead them in discussions of politics, literature and even math — anything to stimulate their “intellectual lives,” as son Bill Herman described it.

Those dinners, and the rousing conversations that accompanied them, were carried on as Mr. Herman’s children had children of their own.

“It became something that was incredibly important to him, a tradition that he passed on, and it became something that I absolutely always did [with my own family],” said Levinson.

On Sept. 27, Mr. Herman died at the Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter in Glenview of pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

Mr. Herman worked hard to be able to support his family, but mainly “so he could send his kids to nice colleges and not borrow money,” according to Bill Herman.

“Education was the thing he valued the most,” Bill Herman said, adding his parents chose to live in Winnetka for the great school system.

Mr. Herman met his wife, Lail, after he transferred to Northwestern University in Evanston his junior year of college after two years at Williams College. He went on to receive his law degree from Harvard University School of Law.

A talented football player, Mr. Herman had to choose between playing for Williams or Harvard — but it was Williams’ use of the then-modern split-T offensive formation that was the deciding factor.

Mr. Herman was able to retire at 59, after which he split his time between Winnetka, a cottage in Door County, Wis., and Laguna Beach, Calif.

As one of his favorite pastimes was relaxing and reading in the company of his wife of 56 years, the quiet of Door County offered the Hermans an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends — and of course, together.

“He was always steady as a rock, and his children knew they could always count on him,” said Mr. Herman’s wife, Lail.

Mr. Herman is survived by his wife; children Ellie, Bill and Tom; and eight grandchildren. Mr. Herman’s daughter Jane preceded him in death.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. October 13 at Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter in Glenview.



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