Published: July 2, 2019
AUSTERLITZ, N.Y. – Known by many as the “Mayor of Austerlitz,” Robert Herron died on June 29, 2019, at the age of 91. A lifelong resident of Austerlitz and well-known expert on American antiques, auctioneer and local philanthropist, Robert “Bob” Herron was born on August 3, 1927, to Mary Varney – a descendant of an old New England family that 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 US 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. As 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 antiques dealers and connoisseurs from across the United States 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 Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century buildings and a local history collection. In 1987, The New York Times reported on the restoration of his early house, along with a number of other media outlets.
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 lifelong quest to preserve the best of America’s and Columbia County’s history.
He is proceeded in death by his brother, William Lee Herron (1922-2007), and survived by his nieces Ruth Horak and Janet DeMonaco; Janet’s husband, Louis; and his nephew William Jr’s widow, Cheryl.
A memorial service will be conducted on the grounds of the Austerlitz Historical Society, at a time to be determined this summer. For further information, www.oldausterlitz.org or 518-392-0062.
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