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A Celebration of Life: George H. Herbst

George H. Herbst, 78, of Orlando, Florida, passed away on Monday, May 15, 2017, after losing a year-long battle with throat cancer. George was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and is survived by his husband/partner of 20 years, Richard (Rick) Truitt, and their beloved furbaby, Luna; his sister-in-law, Elaine Herbst of St. Louis, Missouri; three nieces — Amy Graziano (Castle Rock, Colorado), Kathy Arnett (St. Louis, Missouri) and Susan Wandishin (Aurora, Colorado); four great nieces (Celeste, Nina, Jamie, Meghan); and two great nephews (Zack and Tyler).

George Herbst

George Herbst enjoys a cruise through Milford Sound, New Zealand, this past February while vacationing with husband/partner Richard Truitt.

George spent his entire career in education beginning as a high school teacher and serving for 40 years as a chief financial officer. He came out of retirement in 2009 to serve as Stetson University’s Vice President for Business and CFO until 2011. George is credited with taking the lead on renewing the grounds at Stetson’s DeLand, Florida, campus and, according to those who knew him, his handiwork can be seen all over the Stetson campus in DeLand.

“His extremely sharp eye for detail regarding architecture and landscape enabled us to revitalize the Stetson University campus and bring back into focus the beauty of our buildings and grounds,” said Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. “George set us on the path to more financial stability, and gained the trust and respect of those who had the opportunity to work with him.”

Areas that we all enjoy today on Stetson’s DeLand campus that were enhanced through the efforts of George Herbst, Carol Johnson and Dave Rigsby include Palm Court, the walk from Palm Court past Presser and McMahan Halls to Lynn Business Center, the island east of Chaudoin Hall, and many other areas.

“George was an excellent mentor to so many colleagues,” said Al Allen, assistant vice president for Facilities Management at Stetson. “He will be missed by many but remembered through his lasting contributions to so many campuses.”

Prior to working at Stetson, George was Vice President and Treasurer at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, for 13 years, before his retirement in 2008. Rollins honored George by naming him Vice President Emeritus and Treasurer Emeritus. Earlier in his career, George worked at the University of Dallas, Irving, Texas; Cranbrook Educational Community, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and University Liggett School, Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

His areas of expertise included higher education finance, endowment management, strategic planning, board governance, town and gown relations, and commercial real estate development as well as campus planning, design and construction. George served on accreditation teams, as a presenter at national conferences and as a higher education consultant.

Reflecting his dedication to higher education, George served on committees and boards of several professional organizations, including the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO); Association of Governing Boards (AGB); Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS); Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO); as well as others.

George was just as generous with his time and expertise through service to Central Florida communities. He was a current member of the Winter Park Health Foundation Board of Directors and a past member of the City of Orlando Audit Board, and the Florida Hospital Board of Directors. In the past, George served on the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, Mayflower Retirement Community, Center for Creative Studies at the College of Art and Design in Detroit, Michigan, Friends School in Detroit, and the Institute of Music and Dance in Detroit.

As you might expect of someone so outgoing and dedicated to public service, George’s generosity earned him numerous accolades from those who knew and worked with him. Over just a few years he was presented:

  • A Hamilton Holt Medal, 2008: awarded in recognition of distinguished service to Rollins College;
  • American College Counseling Association, 2006: award for advocacy for college counseling;
  • Grand Marshall of the Winter Park Christmas Parade, 2006;
  • Winter Park Citizen of the Year, 2005;
  • Rollins Decoration of Honor, 2004: awarded in recognition of distinguished service to Rollins College;
  • The American Institute of Architects – Orlando Chapter, Award of Merit, 2004: in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to the betterment of the profession and concern for the community which has advanced the cause of design excellence.

Stetson will host a Celebration of Life service on June 17 at 2 p.m. in the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center, Lynn Presentation Room.

Rollins College will hold a Celebration of Life service on June 14, 4 p.m., in Knowles Memorial Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in George’s name to the American Cancer Society.

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