Published: July 13, 2021
MENDENHALL, PENN. – John Andrew Herdeg, 83, passed away peacefully in his sleep at home on June 27. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., on September 15, 1937, the son of Franklin Leland and Susannah Estelle Clark Herdeg, John spent his youth in Gowanda, N.Y. He graduated from Deerfield Academy, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In 1961, John married his lifetime love, Judith (Judy) Coolidge Carpenter, moved to Connecticut and joined the Connecticut Bar while working in New York City as an assistant to the trustee of the bankrupt New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Shortly thereafter, Judy and John moved to Wilmington Del., where he joined the Delaware Bar and the Wilmington Trust Company as a staff attorney.
After a successful 20-year career, John left Wilmington Trust with the title of senior vice president as the head of the trust department and founded the law firm of Herdeg, du Pont & Dalle Pazze LLP. As a trust and estate attorney, John found tremendous joy by helping individuals and families through complicated financial and personal challenges and planning for their futures. He formed close bonds with many clients who saw him as much a close personal friend and counselor as a legal advisor, eventually becoming trustee for a small group of clients who speak warmly and gratefully of his personal dedication. His commitment to personal relationships and professional service led John to co-found the Christiana Bank and Trust Company in Greenville, Del., in 1992 serving as its chairman. He helped lead this dream to become an established and profitable bank and trust company that was later acquired by National Penn Bank as part of its strategic growth plan. In 2010, Wilmington Savings Fund Society, WSFS, acquired the Christiana Trust assets from National Penn Bank.
John loved American history and Eighteenth Century decorative arts, committing his life, in partnership with Judy, to research, collecting and philanthropic leadership. Their lifelong passion started in 1963 with the reconstruction and restoration of the William Peters’ house, a 1750s Georgian brick structure, which through their efforts was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house, which became their family home for nearly 60 years, was the impetus for a lifetime of research, scholarship and collecting. Their love of Eighteenth Century design expanded into the landscape with an emphasis on native flora and plants introduced before 1775. With his lovely companion, John traveled to both British and American historic sites, societies and libraries to research their collection leading to scholarly articles and a forthcoming book. The culmination of his love of antiques, research and storytelling, The Stories They Tell…from the Herdeg Collection will soon be available through the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
As a collector and scholar, John committed 50 years of service to the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library serving as chairman of the board for nine years and participating on numerous board committees throughout his long tenure. Winterthur will honor John and Judy with the H.F. du Pont Award this coming September for his dedication and leadership. John also served as trustee at Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts and president of the 1103 Market Street Foundation, a public charity dedicated to preserving the Historic William Merrick Mansion. He was a trustee and on the executive committee at the Woodlawn Trustees and also served as a supervisor and other positions for Pennsbury Township, Chester County, Penn.
John was a member of a number of historical organizations, including the Walpole Society, a group dedicated to the appreciation and study of American decorative arts, architecture and history; New England Historic Genealogical Society; the American Antiquarian Society and the Society for Colonial Wars in the State of Delaware. John was active in many social clubs, perhaps most importantly the Wilmington Club, where he served as president and a member of the board of governors. He enjoyed the camaraderie of many lifelong friends through the West Chop Club of Martha’s Vineyard, Vicmead Hunt Club and Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
John is survived by his wife Judy of 60 years, and three children and their spouses: Judith (Leli) Leland Herdeg Wilson and her husband Bill, Andrew Carpenter Herdeg and his wife Maggie, and Fell Coolidge Herdeg and his wife Cara, and their seven grandchildren: Molly and Abigail Wilson; George and Ceci Herdeg; and Emma, Benjamin and Sam Herdeg.
A memorial service will be conducted in the fall. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the H.F. du Pont Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, c/o Philanthropic Office, 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, DE 19735), New England Historic Genealogical Society – American Ancestors (Development Office, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA, 02116) or Historic Deerfield (80 Old Main Street, Deerfield, MA 01342).
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