Obituary: Frank Herkelrath

Frank Meigs Herkelrath, a longtime Claremont resident, died Friday, February 24, 2017 of heart failure at Mt. San Antonio Gardens. He was 97 years old.

Frank was born February 18, 1920 in Riverside, California, and was the only child of Frank and Grace Meigs Herkelrath. When he was very young, Frank’s father was appointed station master for the Santa Fe Train Station in San Diego. The family moved to San Diego, living in the Mission Hills area overlooking Mission Valley, when it was still farmland. Frank attended San Diego schools, and for several summers before the start of World War II, worked in Yosemite National Park. It was during one of these summers when he assisted in providing supplies to famed photographer Ansel Adams, as he photographed the park.

Mr. Herkelrath graduated from the University of Southern California in 1942, majoring in business. He soon went to work for the U.S. Army Air Corps, managing an engine repair facility, and then transferred to a management position within the personnel department at Norton Air Base in San Bernardino. He served in this role during the remainder of the war.

After the war, he met the former Mildred Gibson at a party in Redlands and a courtship ensued, eventually leading to marriage in 1947. Post-war employment included business management positions at Redlands Community Hospital and the Palm Springs School District, before becoming administrator of Pilgrim Place in Claremont in 1951.

Near the time of the family’s arrival in Claremont, retirement home living concepts were being re-evaluated. Many new ideas were being offered relating to the quality of retirement life, and establishing retirement home planned communities. Mr. Herkelrath fully embraced these new ideas, utilizing his business experience to create a lifetime quality care concept for retirement home living. He was soon widely recognized as one of the leaders in this new concept of retirement home planning. Over the years, he served as an advisor to many different retirement home management planning boards, particularly during the first phase of planning, funding and building new retirement home communities.

Mr. Herkelrath spent many years engaged in supporting activities for local Claremont community groups and Congregational Church service activities. These include Rotary International (he was a Paul Harris Fellow), and the University Club of Claremont. He also led the effort for funding, planning and building a Congregational retreat facility in Yucaipa, California (Pilgrim Pines). Frank was a life member of Redlands Masonic Lodge #300 and life member of Long Beach Scottish Rite.

Mr. Herkelrath’s wife Mildred died in 1980. He leaves behind sons James M. Herkelrath and William R. Herkelrath, both living in Washington State. He also leaves behind three granddaughters, four great granddaughters and one great grandson.

No public services are planned. Mr. Herkelrath will be buried at Oak Park Cemetery.


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