It all began in 1973 for Herman and Helen. Herman lived in Savannah, Georgia and worked in civil service for Hunter Agency Airfield. When his job was abolished, he had the opportunity to find a job anywhere in the United States. As he had worked with the VA hospital before, he accepted a job at the VA hospital in Kerrville, Texas. He found a small apartment near the hospital located on the same block as Helen’s home. Helen served in the US Navy from Nov 1, 1944 to June 25th, 1947. After receiving her degree in nursing, Helen worked for the VA hospital in Kerrville, too. Every day after work, Helen walked her small dog, coincidentally named Herman, around the block a few times - an opportunity for both to stretch their legs.
One sunny Saturday afternoon, Herman was hard at work on an engine, sheltered from the hot Texas sun under the open hood. Helen and "little" Herman were walking around the block and suddenly, Little Herman ran into the road. Helen called to her dog, and Herman responded back from under the hood of his car. They had met in passing at the hospital, but this was their first opportunity to speak at length. Herman invited her out to dinner that night, an invitation Helen happily accepted. That was June of 1973, and they were married on December 23rd of that same year. Helen was 10 years older than Herman and was jokingly accused of “robbing the cradle” prior to their wedding. Despite the critics, Herman and Helen were married for 43 wonderful years.
As gas prices rose in 1979, Herman and Helen searched fervently for a smaller vehicle with better gas mileage. From his many years as a mechanic, Herman decided a Mustang was a good option for his wife. At that point in time, Mustangs were hard to find in the standard market. But finally, they found it. A 1966 Ford Mustang, canary yellow with no hood or engine. They paid a total of $600 for it. Herman did a partial restoration at that point to get it going, painting it white and green and getting new carpet. His goal was to get it done by Christmas for her but he didn’t make it. Instead, he placed a new spare tire under the tree that year as a vow to finish it. It was a private joke between the two for many years.
The full restoration took 22 years, starting in 1992. Despite the fact that Helen became ill and Herman needed to care for her, as she was the most important thing in his life, the restoration continued. Helen's first heart attack happened in November of 1999, and she was airlifted to San Antonio. The following year she had a stroke and was hospitalized for several months. She recovered from the stroke without any physical disability, only to suffer a bout of viral meningitis and shingles in June 2006. After this point, Helen resided in six different nursing homes, and Herman visited her every day. As a Christian minister and musician, Herman offered his services every Sunday at her nursing home, singing for Helen and other residents. In late 2013, Helen finally made it home to be with Herman, only to pass on January 19th, 2014. Herman finally finished the restoration of Helen’s Mustang this past summer, and dedicates the Mustang to his beloved wife. “It was always her car,” he related. “She can see it now, and I know that it pleases her.”
Emily Hubbell was born and raised in Traverse City, MI. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013 and has been working at Hagerty since March of 2014.