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Michael D. Hermes

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Michael D. Hermes

Birth
California, USA
Death
19 Feb 2011 (aged 73)
California, USA
Burial
Burial Details Unknown Add to Map
Memorial ID
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"Michael D. Hermes, who for 34 years served as president and chief executive officer of Ojai Valley School, succumbed to metastatic melanoma on Feb. 19, 2011. He was 73. An alumnus of OVS, Hermes took over as head of the school in 1975, following eight years as CEO of the United Way of Ventura County. He was instrumental in leading the school through a period of fiscal uncertainty into an era of growth and prosperity. But his connection with the school began much earlier, first as a student-athlete and later as a dorm parent, coach, cook, and even bus driver for students at the fledgling Upper Campus. He would go on to serve on the OVS Board of Trustees before becoming school president. By the time he retired in 2009, Hermes had overseen the growth and development of a first-rate educational institution of more than 300 students in pre-kindergarten to twelfth grades, and had left an indelible mark through his leadership and devotion to the school. "OVS has lost a great champion," said current OVS President Michael Hall-Mounsey, who worked alongside Hermes for nearly three decades. "Without Mike Hermes' determination, courage, and leadership, OVS would simply not be here today. He dedicated most of his life to the school and its mission, and both campuses have flourished under his visionary leadership."

Born Feb. 2, 1938, Hermes spent his early childhood on Catalina Island, where his father taught school until World War II brought about the closure of the island campus and the relocation of the Hermes family to the Thacher School, which had hired Mike's father. Mike's childhood at Thacher was idyllic, and he came to regard many of his fellow "faculty brats" as extensions of his family. Mike spent his middle school years -- seventh through ninth grade -- at the Ojai Valley School, and thrived in an environment that valued horseback riding, camping trips, and athletic competition as much as it did academic pursuits. He met the best friend of his life, Alan Teague, his first day on campus. Hermes graduated from OVS, which didn't at that time have a high school program, in 1953 and went on to become a boarding student at Midland School, located in the Santa Ynez Valley. As had been true at OVS, Mike emerged as a leader at Midland. He excelled in sports and was appointed head horseman, captain of the baseball team, and school prefect. He was also elected president of his senior class. After graduating from Midland, Mike enrolled at UCSB, but his studies there were interrupted by a stint he did on a cattle ranch in Cayucos and then by an adventurous move to Hawaii. He married his first wife, Sunny, there, and their eldest daughter was born on Oahu. But Mike was determined to go back to college and pursue a degree in sociology. That goal brought him back to Ojai and to the Ojai Valley School where, beginning in 1962, he became the first dorm parent at the Upper Campus. At the same time he was attending San Fernando State College (now Cal State Northridge University), Mike took on the challenge of supervising 16 rambunctious tenth-grade boys who were isolated on a campus that consisted of one dormitory and no athletic facilities. In an interview shortly before his death, Hermes referred to the four years he and his young family spent living at and developing the high school campus as a "magical" time.

Hermes left OVS in 1967 and spent eight years heading the Ventura County United Way, reconnecting with OVS in 1972 when he joined the Board of Trustees and was put in charge of fundraising for the school. He was married to his second wife, Elizabeth, by this time. Three years later, his fundraising background would serve him well as Hermes accepted an offer to become head of the school at a time of fiscal turmoil. "He didn't just take over directorship of the school, he took it over in a crisis," said Upper Campus Headmaster Carl Cooper, who maintained a lifelong friendship with Hermes that stretched well beyond their professional lives together. Hermes spearheaded efforts to return OVS to sound financial footing, launching new fundraising efforts, a dynamic marketing program, and an aggressive and selective admissions process that soon began paying dividends. Under Hermes' stewardship, millions of dollars were poured into renovating and upgrading OVS' two campuses, resulting in new classrooms, equestrian facilities, technology labs, athletic facilities, and a state-of-the-art venue for the performing arts. "Mike was OVS to a generation of students, teachers, and families," declared Hall-Mounsey. Unfailingly modest, Hermes would have been the first to credit his board chairmen, first Carl A. Kotchian and later Bill Hair, as well as the buildings and grounds committee chairman, Dave Donlon--men for whom Hermes felt the utmost regard and appreciation--for the success the school has enjoyed in recent decades. Over the years he served as the OVS president, Hermes was also active in a number of community organizations, serving on the boards of the Tri-Counties Comprehensive Health Planning Council, the Ojai Land Conservancy, the United Way, the Ojai Valley Hospital Foundation, and the Ventura County Symphony. He was also a staunch supporter of the Keep the Sespe Wild group. In retirement, Mike loved spending time with his closest friends, Alan Teague and Scott Davis. Poker and golf were high on his list of entertainments. Mike also enjoyed hiking in the Sespe and following sports on TV. He was an avid reader and had a particular interest in the Civil War. Most of all, though, Mike treasured the time he was able to spend time with Liz and with the rest of his family, especially his grandchildren. Mike demonstrated courage and candor in all aspects of his life. His family and close friends knew him to be a warm and generous man who was exceptionally wise and deeply supportive. But even those who knew him less well came to appreciate his exceptional qualities of character. A former employee of Mike's has paid him this moving tribute: "His unassuming demeanor endeared him to all he met. He led by example and shared his smiles, his time, and his kindness every day. His office door was always open, and he greeted one and all as an old friend or a glad-to-see-you new acquaintance. He never seemed hurried, rushed, or too busy to ask how you were doing, how your family was doing, and how things were going. "He never missed a chance to say how much he appreciated your hard work, and he treated each of his many employees equally, giving the same respect to each individual, regardless of that person's standing in the organization. "Mike demonstrated how to lead with finesse, elegance, and grace, without any affected air of being important or powerful, although he was the president of our school. He placed trust in his employees which inspired them to do a good job. He endured hard times and held steadfast until the storms passed, leading many through treacherous times and making them believe that things were going to be okayand they were. "He appreciated each and every moment of his life. He was a good man. Many are delighted to have called him a friend." Mike leaves behind his wife of 40 years, Elizabeth Hermes; a brother, Peter Hermes; a niece and seven nephews; four daughters: Shelley Hermes, Lisa Hermes Matranga and her husband, Kent, Shauna Hermes Gordon and her husband, Michael, as well as Jennifer Hermes Whitsitt and her husband, Taylor. In addition, Mike is survived by his much beloved grandchildren: Alex Matranga, Leslie Matranga, Meredith Matranga, Mercedez Whitsitt, Warren Whitsitt, and Ava Whitsitt."

(From the Ventura Star, March 2011)

"Michael D. Hermes, who for 34 years served as president and chief executive officer of Ojai Valley School, succumbed to metastatic melanoma on Feb. 19, 2011. He was 73. An alumnus of OVS, Hermes took over as head of the school in 1975, following eight years as CEO of the United Way of Ventura County. He was instrumental in leading the school through a period of fiscal uncertainty into an era of growth and prosperity. But his connection with the school began much earlier, first as a student-athlete and later as a dorm parent, coach, cook, and even bus driver for students at the fledgling Upper Campus. He would go on to serve on the OVS Board of Trustees before becoming school president. By the time he retired in 2009, Hermes had overseen the growth and development of a first-rate educational institution of more than 300 students in pre-kindergarten to twelfth grades, and had left an indelible mark through his leadership and devotion to the school. "OVS has lost a great champion," said current OVS President Michael Hall-Mounsey, who worked alongside Hermes for nearly three decades. "Without Mike Hermes' determination, courage, and leadership, OVS would simply not be here today. He dedicated most of his life to the school and its mission, and both campuses have flourished under his visionary leadership."

Born Feb. 2, 1938, Hermes spent his early childhood on Catalina Island, where his father taught school until World War II brought about the closure of the island campus and the relocation of the Hermes family to the Thacher School, which had hired Mike's father. Mike's childhood at Thacher was idyllic, and he came to regard many of his fellow "faculty brats" as extensions of his family. Mike spent his middle school years -- seventh through ninth grade -- at the Ojai Valley School, and thrived in an environment that valued horseback riding, camping trips, and athletic competition as much as it did academic pursuits. He met the best friend of his life, Alan Teague, his first day on campus. Hermes graduated from OVS, which didn't at that time have a high school program, in 1953 and went on to become a boarding student at Midland School, located in the Santa Ynez Valley. As had been true at OVS, Mike emerged as a leader at Midland. He excelled in sports and was appointed head horseman, captain of the baseball team, and school prefect. He was also elected president of his senior class. After graduating from Midland, Mike enrolled at UCSB, but his studies there were interrupted by a stint he did on a cattle ranch in Cayucos and then by an adventurous move to Hawaii. He married his first wife, Sunny, there, and their eldest daughter was born on Oahu. But Mike was determined to go back to college and pursue a degree in sociology. That goal brought him back to Ojai and to the Ojai Valley School where, beginning in 1962, he became the first dorm parent at the Upper Campus. At the same time he was attending San Fernando State College (now Cal State Northridge University), Mike took on the challenge of supervising 16 rambunctious tenth-grade boys who were isolated on a campus that consisted of one dormitory and no athletic facilities. In an interview shortly before his death, Hermes referred to the four years he and his young family spent living at and developing the high school campus as a "magical" time.

Hermes left OVS in 1967 and spent eight years heading the Ventura County United Way, reconnecting with OVS in 1972 when he joined the Board of Trustees and was put in charge of fundraising for the school. He was married to his second wife, Elizabeth, by this time. Three years later, his fundraising background would serve him well as Hermes accepted an offer to become head of the school at a time of fiscal turmoil. "He didn't just take over directorship of the school, he took it over in a crisis," said Upper Campus Headmaster Carl Cooper, who maintained a lifelong friendship with Hermes that stretched well beyond their professional lives together. Hermes spearheaded efforts to return OVS to sound financial footing, launching new fundraising efforts, a dynamic marketing program, and an aggressive and selective admissions process that soon began paying dividends. Under Hermes' stewardship, millions of dollars were poured into renovating and upgrading OVS' two campuses, resulting in new classrooms, equestrian facilities, technology labs, athletic facilities, and a state-of-the-art venue for the performing arts. "Mike was OVS to a generation of students, teachers, and families," declared Hall-Mounsey. Unfailingly modest, Hermes would have been the first to credit his board chairmen, first Carl A. Kotchian and later Bill Hair, as well as the buildings and grounds committee chairman, Dave Donlon--men for whom Hermes felt the utmost regard and appreciation--for the success the school has enjoyed in recent decades. Over the years he served as the OVS president, Hermes was also active in a number of community organizations, serving on the boards of the Tri-Counties Comprehensive Health Planning Council, the Ojai Land Conservancy, the United Way, the Ojai Valley Hospital Foundation, and the Ventura County Symphony. He was also a staunch supporter of the Keep the Sespe Wild group. In retirement, Mike loved spending time with his closest friends, Alan Teague and Scott Davis. Poker and golf were high on his list of entertainments. Mike also enjoyed hiking in the Sespe and following sports on TV. He was an avid reader and had a particular interest in the Civil War. Most of all, though, Mike treasured the time he was able to spend time with Liz and with the rest of his family, especially his grandchildren. Mike demonstrated courage and candor in all aspects of his life. His family and close friends knew him to be a warm and generous man who was exceptionally wise and deeply supportive. But even those who knew him less well came to appreciate his exceptional qualities of character. A former employee of Mike's has paid him this moving tribute: "His unassuming demeanor endeared him to all he met. He led by example and shared his smiles, his time, and his kindness every day. His office door was always open, and he greeted one and all as an old friend or a glad-to-see-you new acquaintance. He never seemed hurried, rushed, or too busy to ask how you were doing, how your family was doing, and how things were going. "He never missed a chance to say how much he appreciated your hard work, and he treated each of his many employees equally, giving the same respect to each individual, regardless of that person's standing in the organization. "Mike demonstrated how to lead with finesse, elegance, and grace, without any affected air of being important or powerful, although he was the president of our school. He placed trust in his employees which inspired them to do a good job. He endured hard times and held steadfast until the storms passed, leading many through treacherous times and making them believe that things were going to be okayand they were. "He appreciated each and every moment of his life. He was a good man. Many are delighted to have called him a friend." Mike leaves behind his wife of 40 years, Elizabeth Hermes; a brother, Peter Hermes; a niece and seven nephews; four daughters: Shelley Hermes, Lisa Hermes Matranga and her husband, Kent, Shauna Hermes Gordon and her husband, Michael, as well as Jennifer Hermes Whitsitt and her husband, Taylor. In addition, Mike is survived by his much beloved grandchildren: Alex Matranga, Leslie Matranga, Meredith Matranga, Mercedez Whitsitt, Warren Whitsitt, and Ava Whitsitt."

(From the Ventura Star, March 2011)


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