Age 99, of East Lansing, passed away on March 29, 2011. She was born November 20, 1911 in New York City to Beatrice Madrigal and Thomas Terrence O’Brien, moving to Lansing when her father was offered a job as general sales manager of Oldsmobile in 1920. Her father later became mayor of Lansing.
Beatrice graduated from Lansing Central High School in 1928. She attended Michigan State University majoring in Languages. She was active in Alpha Phi Sorority, President of Sphinx, Vice President of the Union Board and Treasurer of the A.W.S. Council. She was a member of Tau Sigma, La Cofradia, Phi Kappa Phi, W.A.A. and brought Mortar Board to MSU. After graduating in 1931 she taught Languages at Eastern High School until she married H. Richard Herrmann in 1934.
Beatrice was active in the community and joined the Junior Service League which later became the Junior League of Lansing. She was a member of Sparrow Auxiliary since 1935. She was president of the group in 1954-55. In 1954 she was honored in Chicago by the National Hospital Association for her work during National Hospital Week arranging 100 speakers and 50 window displays in downtown stores to promote interest in the hospital and encourage students to choose careers in the health profession. This group started the baby photo project and the idea of a gift counter. Beatrice was a lifelong member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the St. Agnes Guild. She belonged to the Lansing Woman’s Club for over 60 years.
Her love of learning, books and children led her to a second degree in 1959 and a job in the Lansing School District as a beloved elementary librarian, retiring in 1977. While a librarian she received the Elizabeth Siddall International Understanding Award. Beatrice was friends with many children’s book authors and illustrators, most notably Dr. Seuss, who wrote a special poem about her. Beatrice was a world traveler and was one of the first Americans to be invited to visit China and Russia. She was a lifetime member of the Peoples Friendship Association of Lansing.
Her husband died in 1979. She later married Robert Richards. She loved her family, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She always had a ready smile, a positive view of life and could talk to you about the latest book, the newest fashion trend and who had won the latest MSU sporting event. She loved attending plays and concerts at Wharton Center.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, H. Richard Herrmann; her second husband, Robert Richards; brothers, Bill O’Brien and Thomas O’Brien; and brother-in-law, John Seaman. Surviving are two sons, H. Richard Herrmann Jr. (Judy) of Tulsa, OK, T. James Herrmann of Larkspur, CA; daughter, Susan Brewster (John) of Okemos; grandchildren, Victoria Brewster Hassenauer (Michael) of Woodbury, MN, Elizabeth Brewster Panley (Michael) of Beverly Hills, MI, Heidi Herrmann Merchant (Michael) of St. Joseph, MI, Michael Richard Herrmann (Susie) of St. Joseph, MI; eight great-grandchildren, Austin Hassenauer, James Cameron Hassenauer, Alan Michael Panley, Cameron John Panley, Henry McPherson Panley, Melanie Merchant, Becca Merchant, Julianna Herrmann; sister, Martha O’Brien Seaman; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews.
The Requiem Eucharist for Beatrice will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 218 West Ottawa, Lansing, MI 48933 with The Very Rev. Dr. Gordon F. Weller as celebrant. A reception will follow to greet family in the Merrifield room. Interment will be at Evergreen Cemetery for family following the reception. Donations may be made in Beatrice’s memory to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Arrangements by Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.