It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Robert Herron, one of the original founders of the Austerlitz Historical Society. Bob continued to be an active member and strong presence in all aspects of the society. He will be sorely missed.
A Memorial Service will be held on August 17th at 12:30 pm, on the grounds of the Austerlitz Historical Society.
Famed Columbia County Auctioneer, Preservationist and Philanthropist Dies
Robert Herron (August 3, 1927—June 29, 2019)
Known by many as the “Mayor of Austerlitz,” Robert Herron of Austerlitz, NY died on Saturday, June 29th, 2019 at the age of 91. A life-long resident of Austerlitz and well-known expert on American antiques, auctioneer and local philanthropist, Robert “Bob” Herron was born on August 3rd, 1927 to Mary Varney—a descendant of an old New England family which settled in Austerlitz by the end of the eighteenth century—and William C. Herron, whose family moved to Austerlitz in the mid-nineteenth century.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy who later attended the University of Denver, “Bob” Herron began collecting early American furniture as a young boy and later ran a highly-successful auction house. One of the premier auctioneers in New England, in 1997 the New York Times wrote that Herron had found “one of the few major discoveries of the year”—an important collection of early American furniture which brought antique dealers and connoisseurs from across the country to the small hamlet of Austerlitz.
Continuing his family’s long tradition of serving the community and fostering its civic life, Herron and his good friend, Richard Mugler, Jr., were responsible for the preservation of the local schoolhouse, the Austerlitz Church, a number of houses in the hamlet and the establishment of the Austerlitz Historical Society. A generous benefactor, Herron donated both funds and land to the Historical Society, which now boasts a collection of late 18th and early 19th century buildings and a local history collection. In 1987, the New York Times—along with a number of other media outlets—reported on the restoration of his early house.
“Bob” also made substantial donations to community organizations, most recently to the Columbia County Land Conservancy and for the building of the hamlet’s new firehouse.
Known for his keen eye, “sharp as a tack” mind, and unfailing wit up to his death, Herron will be missed by his family, friends, neighbors and colleagues and the many volunteers he recruited in his life-long quest to preserve the best of this country’s and Columbia County’s history.
He is preceeded in death by his brother, William Lee Herron (1922-2007), and survived by his nieces Ruth Horak, Janet DeMonaco, Janet’s husband Louis, and his nephew William Jr.’s widow Cheryl.
A memorial service will be held on the grounds of the Austerlitz Historical Society, at a time to be determined this summer. For further information, please check the historical society’s web site www.oldausterlitz.org or call 518-392-0062.
Memorial Donations may be made out to the Austerlitz Historical Society or the Austerlitz Cemetery (please indicate your preference), and sent to :
The Austerlitz Historical Society-PO Box 144- Austerlitz, NY 12017