November 10, 1927 - January 2, 2020
Herman Sebastian Walby was the third child of Edward and Clara Walby, born on November 10, 1927, in Millersville, Ohio. He served as an alter boy at St. Mary's Church there. He was graduated from Jackson-Burgoon High school in 1945, and to the family's knowledge, was the last surviving member of that class. His passion at the time was flying and took lessons, soloing for the first time on his 18th birthday in 1945. During a flight on December 12, 1945, his plane's engine malfunctioned, went into a stall and crashed into a field near his uncle's farm. His injuries were severe. However, passing nearby was a military medic on leave, traveling with his parents, who asked to be taken to the wreckage where he extracted Herm from the plane, and administered CPR while being driven to the hospital in Toledo, Ohio, saving his life.
After an extended recuperation, Herm and friend Pete visited Pete's girlfriend at the nurse's training dorm at Mercy Hospital in Toledo. There Herm met nursing student Mary Dullinger and it was love at first site. Herm was unaware after their first date that Mary told her friends she had met the man she would marry. They were wed on June 18, 1949, in Erie, Michigan, and set up residence in Fremont, Ohio. Rather than flying, his new passion was amateur photography, taking and developing his own photographs.
A lifelong devout Catholic, he practiced his faith through deeds and actions as a member of the St. Mary's, Millersville, Ohio, St. Ann's, Fremont, Ohio, and St. Joseph's, Selma, California, parishes. He served as part time bookkeeper and construction supervisor for the bell tower at the then new St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
He and Mary and their three children enjoyed many activities including attending model airplane shows, watching educational movies borrowed from the library, and boating on the rivers and lakes in northern Ohio. They also talked frequently about moving the family to California. That dream came true in 1964 when the family uprooted and drove cross country to Reedley. Additional family activities then included Sunday drives to Kings Canyon National Park, frequenting ice cream shops, and parking at the end of the runway at Fresno Air Terminal to watch the planes land. Herm worked as construction manager for the new Country Club Estates and moved to Selma one year later. He joined the Selma Lion's Club, holding the office of treasurer, and serving community projects to benefit all.
The family moved to Glendora, California, in 1970, where he worked as production manager for an electronics testing company. He was known by senior supervisors as the “Fire Man,” extinguishing fires of chaos and disruption in logistics and manufacturing until retirement in 2002. He and Mary moved back to Selma and returned to St. Joseph's parish. Due to declining health, they joined other residents at Paintbrush Assisted Living in Fresno, where his favorite activity was Bingo, winning multiple games almost daily. This past June, family and friends gathered for a surprise 70th Wedding Anniversary Party on the grounds at Paintbrush which thrilled the happy couple and gave them bragging rights during meals in the dining hall.
He will be remembered as a loving husband and father, a true renaissance man, a pilot, architect, builder, plumber, electrician, friend, patriot, and handyman – fixing anything broken while maintaining a common sense, practical view of the world.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Edna Walby and Estella VanCompernolle. Surviving are his wife of 70 years, Mary Margaret; sons Colonel Edward (Vic) Walby of Montana and David (Lisa) Walby of West Virginia, and daughter Regina Mulligan (Rick Harvey) of Selma; grandchildren Melissa Freedman, Christine Kelley, Jessica Gutierrez, Dale Walby, Jim Mulligan, Matthew Mulligan, and Leanne Hodson; 23 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren; four nieces and four nephews.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Paintbrush for their care and attention, the residents of Paintbrush for their friendship, and St. Agnes Hospice for guidance and loving care over the past few weeks.