Herb was born on April 8, 1935 and died on May 31, 2019. He was 84 years old but not an old man. He was a strong and courageous man who understood that his accountability was to God and to no man. He valued integrity and held to values that he believed transcended time and changing cultural norms.
Herb grew up in Brooklyn, NY, in a Jewish home, with his parents and younger brother, Bert. In junior high he discovered the library and began a lifelong love of books. He worked his way first through the school library and then the local city library, book by book. He did poorly in school but educated himself with books. He flunked out of Brooklyn College.
In 1954, at 18, he joined the Army and became a paratrooper. He put his faith in Jesus Christ at the Christian Serviceman’s Club at Ft. Bragg, NC, that year, a decision that was life-altering for him. Instead of pursuing a military career as he first intended, he headed for the Midwest for college and to search for a “cornfed Iowa farmgirl.” At Bethel College, in St. Paul, MN, he met Terry Benz (from Iowa) and decided she was the only girl he could marry.
He was discipled by the Navigators and lived in “Nav Homes” during his college years. He left Bethel in 1959 for the University of Missouri and a Master’s Degree in History under Louis Spitz, and then spent a summer stint at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
In 1961, he entered a Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota and served as a teaching assistant. His first day on that campus of 40,000 students, he ran into Terry Benz, enrolled as a Master’s Degree student, and the relationship was rekindled. Within months they were engaged, and married the following June of 1962. He earned his Ph.D. (which he referred to as his “union card”) in European Intellectual History.
The libraries, the Army, his conversion, and his formal education all prepared him for his calling, for his marriage, and for living well to the end of his life.
Their first child, Stephen Kenneth, was born in 1963, their second, Laurie Anne, in 1966, and their third, Thomas David, in 1969.
Herb taught history at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada from 1964-65. He and his family returned to the States in 1965, where he spent four years with the CIA, living in Arlington, VA. He earned a second Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the American University in D.C., and moved to Harrisburg, PA in 1971 to take a post as Division Chairman for Social Sciences at Harrisburg Area Community College. In 1973, he accepted a job as Academic Dean of Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, WVA. After four years there, he and his family moved to Minneapolis where he finally discovered his calling to write on the intersection of Christian faith and American culture.
His first book was published in 1983. The title is Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society. He was author and co-author of a number of other books. His last books were two of an intended three volume series on the renewal of faith and culture in England in the 18th and 19th centuries and the almost immediate reversal in the 19th and 20th centuries. Those books were titled, The Silent Revolution and the Making of Victorian England, and Conflict and Crisis in the Religious Life of Late Victorian England.
Herb stopped writing when pancreatic cancer struck and sapped his energy. He lived his last years with great delight in his wife, his three children, his nine grandchildren, and a darling great-granddaughter he met and saw grow through her first year. He ended his life confident that God mercifully bestowed eternal life on him as a gift of grace, and grateful for his calling and all the many benefits showered by God on him: his wife, his family, his calling, his friends, his great contentment with the generosity of God toward him. He lived with the cancer long enough to have a continuously deepening appreciation for each day of life God gave him.