HERR, Norman Richard. Of Boston, died June 6, 2021.
If you met Norman Herr, it was likely for one of two reasons. Either you were part of the West End or North End communities and were struggling with housing or other issues. Or you were in a position of power in government or the local institutions and could do something about the community issues Norman saw as his duty to correct. Either way, Norm would find you. Over the many decades he lived as one of the last residents of the old West End of Boston, on Anderson Street and later on Michelangelo Street in the North End, Norman Herr fought for tenant's rights, challenged institutional expansion to do better, brought attention to quality of life issues like noise and air pollution, trash, handicapped accessibility and all those small things that people come to accept as part of life in the city, except Norman didn't accept it. Well known for going from office to office in City Hall and at the State House, Norm would find out what people did and where they had authority and then proceed to enlist them in solving some community issue. It was nearly impossible to say no when Norman brought a problem to your attention and then follow-up, week after week until it was resolved. "I always deliver on my promise," he would say. "I'm a man of my word."
Norman Herr had a special place in his heart for seniors of the North End, pushing for accessible crosswalks and leveraging the "donation" of grocery carts to seniors on the North End. While not much is known of his methods, his motive was always to make the world a better place for the poor and elderly. As he would tell you, "I speak for the people who don't have a voice." Norman's most lasting legacy may be the annual Christmas Tree lighting at Cardinal Cushing Park that he has organized since 1995 at the corner of Cambridge and Bowdoin Streets. The week after he would start fundraising for the next year.
Norman was born October 18, 1934 and grew up on Sydney Street near the Polish Triangle neighborhood in Boston, son of the late Leo Ira Herr and Veronica Ursula (Aleksun) Herr, Norm held a number of different jobs throughout his life including as a longshoreman and as a bartender at a bar called Backstreet in what was known as the Combat Zone, where he made news by bringing in live music and notable jazz artists . But his favorite job was always as "Grand Marshall" of the Tree Lighting at Cardinal Cushing Park. To continue that legacy, the friends of Norman Herr have set up a gofundme.com at: bit.ly/NormansTree.
One of his favorite songs was "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," with lyrics like "Love is nature's way of giving a reason to be living. The golden crown that makes a man a king." Norman was a loyal friend and was loved by many. His personal credo was, "One man can do a lot of good." On Norman's behalf, we his friends would like to thank the many caregivers, visiting nurses, physical therapists, and the good people at Massachusetts General Hospital who took care of him when his health began to fail. He may not have said it in so many words, but he was truly grateful to you.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. Joseph Catholic Church, 68 Cardinal O'Connell Way in the West End of Boston, on Monday, June 21, 2021 at 10 A.M.
Burial will follow in St. Michael Cemetery, Roslindale.