The fabric of a community is held together by the people who step up; the people who give their time, energy and money to help a town become a better place. Sadly, Delta Junction lost one of those people on March 1.
Eileen Ondo Herman was born to Edward and Margaret Ondo on November 20, 1956, in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. She spent her early life there until 1978 when she and her cousin Dave drove to Kenai, Alaska in a 1966 Barracuda. She worked at a cannery and a gas station before moving to Wasilla where she did bookkeeping after receiving her Accounting Clerk certification from Alaska Business College in 1980.
After divorcing her first husband, she spent two years in San Diego before returning to Alaska in 1990 and taking a bookkeeping job at the remote Valdez Creek Mine along the Denali Highway. It was there that she met Nick Herman. Nick became her partner in many adventures, and she was often heard describing him as, “the perfect man for me.” The two were married on March 22, 1992. Their only child, Charlie Herman, was born later that year. They moved to Cordova for a time before making Delta Junction their home.
Eileen worked in many different places: the library, the job center, the LIO, and the Texaco where she said, “If you ever decide to sell this place, call me first.” She had countless business plans and ideas and her entrepreneurial skills turned several of them into successful businesses over the years. These include North Star Bookkeeping which she started in 1998, The Delta Diner, Busy Bee/Smiling Moose and, currently, Buffalo Center Service formerly the Texaco.
Eileen was a devoted wife and mother and a dedicated business owner. She was also a contributor to many organizations. If Charlie was involved or if she felt it was an important part of this community, she pitched in. As Nick said, “She was civic minded.” To this end, she served as the treasurer for the swim team, Boy Scout Troop 56, Delta Chamber of Commerce, Little League, Delta Junction Farm Bureau, Delta Library Association, Deltana Community Corporation, and the Delta Greely School Board. She served on the school board from 2004 until her passing. One of her special joys was serving as the annual guest reader in Mrs. Mills’ second grade classroom for Read Across America. Her passions in life included her cats, reading, word games, travel, and collecting unique art and tapestry. She was a champion of people and her warm spirit and lovely laugh invited people into her wide circle of friends. A lunch invitation from Eileen meant there was going to be good times and great conversation ahead and maybe even a new friend to add to your own circle. Eileen loved having her nails done as it was her “time to relax.” It was part of her glowing personality.
Eileen was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Dennis, and many aunts and uncles. She is survived by her husband Nick and her son Charlie and his wife Aubrey. The light of her life was Charlie and Aubrey’s two children, Hazel and Alder, and she was anxiously awaiting the birth of their third child. Her family fold also included her stepson, Matthew, and his wife Allison and their children, Avery and Carter, along with her stepdaughter, Maria, and her children, Cloey and Trinity. Eileen dearly loved her many cousins who are found in Alaska, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.
Eileen was proud to have been clean and sober through the help of AA for over 35 years. One of her mottos was “Every new day is another chance to change your life.” In honor of the remarkable way she embodied these words and the love and respect she had for her friend, Lindsay Pinkelman, her family is requesting that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Adapting to Adversity Scholarship Fund. This program will endeavor to provide a scholarship to deserving students in memory of the amazing champion of children who overcame her own adversity, Eileen Herman. Donations can be made to Mt. McKinley Bank or mailed directly to Adapting to Adversity PO Box 893 Delta Jct., AK 99737.
We hope that when you remember Eileen, you remember her warmth, her kindness, her love for others, her amazing, heart-warming laugh and her world class hugs. And we hope those memories make you smile. She would have wanted that.
A memorial service will be held on April 2, 2022, at 3 p.m. in the small gym at Delta Junior High.