Obituary: Joseph Riley Hermanson (1940-2018)

Joseph Riley Hermanson (1940 – 2018)

Joseph Riley Hermanson was born on June 2, 1940 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, along with his twin brother, John Carl Hermanson. At the age of three the twins and a baby brother, Jeffery, were adopted by Robert B. and Marie A. Hermanson. They were raised in rural Wisconsin – including a year living on a farm with primitive plumbing – and attended a two-room schoolhouse in London. Joe spent the 1956-57 school year at Plant High School in Tampa, Florida and graduated from East High School in Madison, Wisconsin in 1958. He enlisted in the Navy and served six years in the relatively new nuclear submarine branch after being interviewed by Admiral Hyman Rickover. On June 29, 1963 he married Joan Elardi in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Their son, Edward, was born in 1964 in Hartford, Connecticut. Following Joe’s service in the Navy the family moved to Madison, where Joe attended the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. A daughter, Laurel, was born in Madison in 1967. The family moved to Messena, New York where Joe was employed by Alcoa Aluminum. In 1970 they transferred to Arden, Washington, and later to Chewelah, where Joe was employed by Northwest Alloys, an Alcoa subsidiary. Joe and Joan retired to Sequim, Washington in 1997. Joe became a Master Gardener in retirement, after taking instruction through the University of Washington Extension Service; he frequently served on the master gardener Board of Directors including being president. Joe and his wife had a second home in the beach community of Ocean Shores, Washington. Joe died at his home in Sequim on November 15, 2018 after a long battle with cancer.

Throughout his life, Joe displayed a fierce determination to accomplish what he set out to do, whether the task was simple or complex, pleasant or unpleasant. His intelligence, friendliness and tenacity made him an outstanding team player, whether he was playing second base in a high school baseball league; harvesting tobacco for a neighbor; delivering morning newspapers in the cold Wisconsin winter with his twin brother; helping his dad at his second job at the city bus station; shoveling meat while working for the Oscar Mayer Company in Madison; performing challenging duties aboard a nuclear submarine at sea for months; leading a large department of engineers to refine silicon and magnesium in an extremely hazardous high-current, high-temperature process; or patiently instructing homeowners in the intricacies of local horticulture. Mechanically gifted since childhood, he fixed and modified automobiles, was the proud owner of a twin-engine fishing boat that he piloted on the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Columbia River, and in retirement he maintained a 6-acre estate near Sequim and a beach house in Ocean Shores. In his spare time he loved to watch televised games featuring his favorite teams: in baseball the Seattle Mariners, and in football the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Like his wife Joan, he also loved animals, especially their beloved dog, Max. He always liked telling stories, often with a dose of Irish wit.

Joe is survived by his wife, Joan; a son, Edward Hermanson, of Portland, Oregon; a daughter, Laurel Hermanson (Brad Bortnem) and granddaughter, Grace Lily, of Vancouver, Washington; two brothers, John (Patricia) Hermanson of Boise, Idaho and Jeffery (Maria Elena Negrete) Hermanson of Bronx, New York; a step-sister, Norma Fish of Osceola, Wisconsin; and two step-brothers, Arlen Holdt and Kenneth (Wilma) Holdt of Luck, Wisconsin. Donations in Joe’s name may be made to the American Cancer Society or the University of Wisconsin.