Herbert LeRoy Hiegel Sr.

May 20, 1918 ~ March 1, 2022 (age 103)



Herb was born in 1918 during ‘The Great War’ in Dawn, Ohio to Theresa (LeMoine) and William Hiegel. Herb spent his early years helping in his father’s grain elevator business.

When Herb’s mother contracted Tuberculosis, the family moved to Tucson, Arizona. His time in the Southwest had the greatest impact on Herb’s formative years. The family suffered through the ‘Great Depression’, losing their home to the bank and another one to fire. Within this same timeframe Herb lost his mother to Tuberculosis.

Homeless, Herb’s father constructed a temporary home from abandoned materials scrounged from the dessert and salvaged wood from a chicken coop. Herb helped his father and brother build ‘The Rock House’ which is still standing. To supplement the family’s income, Herb served in the Civilian Conservation Corps building roads. 

A new graduate of Tucson Senior High School, Herb married the love of his life, Betty Jane Heller in 1939. Soon after, Herb became an apprentice in the ‘sheet metal’ trade which would become his lifelong work.

In 1943, Herb moved his family of four to Van Nuys, California to bring relief to Betty’s asthma symptoms. In 1947 the family, now of six, moved near Tacoma, Washington to live on Herb’s in-laws’ farm.

Herb went to work at Ace Furnace and Steel where he worked for over 21 years. His projects included roofs, restaurants, fire doors, maritime vessels, support on the Alaska Pipeline, and the ASARCO smelter stack.

His work at Nalley’s Fine Foods is Herb’s most enduring work legacy. Here, Herb became so respected for his skills and work ethic that the plant manager requested him personally for sheet metal work. His ingenuity moved Herb beyond fabrication and installment to product design.

Herb continued to live in the family’s small house in Tacoma after his wife Betty died in 1996. He was an avid inventor, tinkerer, woodworker, and gardener up until the last year of his life.

Herb was a dedicated Christian and was a faithful member of Hope Evangelical Community Church in Tacoma, as his health permitted.

Herb is survived by his devoted children Bonnie, Herb Jr., Larry, and Bob as well as many, many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a great, great granddaughter.

Herb passed away peacefully in his bed at home, holding the hand of a family member. His last words were “God, I need You”. 

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