Hal Herbig was one of the most important spark plugs behind the UUMM. Full of insight and enthusiasm, he simply turned aside critics and pessimists without confronting them. But his strong contribution to the Missoula Fellowship and statewide Unitarianism is not mentioned in the two Google stories reproduced below.
MISSOULA - Harold Hubert "Hal" Herbig, 85, passed away on Monday, Nov. 8, 2010, at home in Missoula.
Hal was born on Nov. 20, 1924, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, to Roy and Helen Herbig. The seventh of nine children, he moved to Montana when he was two, first to a ranch near Arlee and eventually to a Missoula ranch at the south end of Higgins Avenue.
On Jan. 19, 1945, he married his life companion, Lois Cain-Young.
Hal was a graduate of Missoula County High School and the University of Montana, and received a master's degree from the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y. He taught music in the Billings and Missoula public schools and was director of the Missoula County High School Orchestra for 22 years. After retirement, he was active in many community organizations including the Mendelssohn Club, City Band, Missoula Orchestra, University of Montana Alumni Band, and International Choral Festival. He loved fishing and the outdoors, and was involved in the Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, and Audubon Society.
Hal is survived by his wife of 65 years, Lois; his sons Lyle (Alice), Doug, Bill and Bob; grandchildren Jacob, Kate Klein (Tom), and Sam; great-grandson Connor Klein; sister Mary Hill; brother Don; and many nieces and nephews.
WESTERN MONTANA LIVES: Hal Herbig was a lover of music and of teaching
By JAMIE KELLY of the Missoulian Jan 10, 2011
Hal Herbig had everything it took to be a professional touring musician - talent in abundance as a woodwind player, the pedigree of coming from a musical family, a deep love of both classical and jazz, and the energy to do it.
Instead, Herbig, who died in Missoula on Nov. 8 at the age of 85, chose to direct almost all his musical efforts at teaching Missoula's children.
"He did a spectacular job," said teaching colleague Don Simmons, a retired University of Montana music professor and former chairman of what is now the UM School of Music. "One of the things that happened in the musical world in this town was when the orchestra played."
Simmons was referring to the Missoula Youth Orchestra, which Herbig founded in 1970 and directed for 22 years.
The youth orchestra was an ensemble of Missoula's best string, brass, percussion and woodwind players, and back then the only real chance for student musicians to tackle the orchestral repertoire.
And the students appreciated it, said Herbig's wife of 65 years, Lois Herbig.
"Everybody liked him," she said. "He was a father to all of them. He spent a lot of time with them, and they knew it.”
It was music too that bonded Hal Herbig and Lois Cain-Young as Herbig was getting his undergraduate degree in music from the UM.
Herbig, an oboe player, followed in his brothers' footsteps and began playing in dance bands, which led to a lifelong love of jazz.
Searching for a piano player for one of his groups, he found Lois.
"He needed a piano man, is how we met," Lois Herbig said. "There were very few around. So I was his piano man.”
The two married in 1945, and shortly afterward moved to Rochester, N.Y., where Hal Herbig had accepted a scholarship at the Eastman School of Music, still today the most prestigious music school in the United States.
His graduate degree in hand, Herbig began teaching music in Billings, where he spent 16 years before he moved with his wife and five children to Missoula.
Once here, he taught for a few years at UM alongside his former orchestral conductor Eugene Andre before accepting the position in the Missoula County Public School district.
As the leader of the youth orchestra, Herbig was part of a musical "triumvirate" of legendary music teachers, which included John Lester and Andre, said Simmons.
"It was a very exciting time because all these great musicians, most of whom studied at the University of Montana, were just legion," he said. "And so well-regarded.”
The orchestra was Herbig's greatest musical legacy in Missoula, but certainly not his only one.
Until he got too sick and too weak to stay involved, Herbig was the longtime coordinator and director of the UM Alumni Jazz Band and Marching Band, and was involved as well in the Mendelssohn Club, the Missoula City Band, the Missoula Symphony Orchestra and the International Choral Festival.
One of his four sons, Doug Herbig, said it was the children he missed after retiring from MCPS.
"He missed the young kids from high school, because they were really open to things," he said.
Two years ago, Herbig's health deteriorated, and he became too weak to stay involved in the Missoula music community.
Simmons said that would have been hard on Herbig.
"He was a very social guy," he said. "Music was a social center for him.”
Lois Herbig said that her husband was, in fact, missing the spotlight and missing his friends and colleagues in Missoula's tight-knit music world.
"I think he missed it," she said, "but I also think he just ran out of energy."