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County mourns passing of community icon

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Johnson County lost an icon of the community last Wednesday when Danny Herman, 78, died after an extended illness. Although born and raised in California, Johnson County became his home in 1979 when Herman moved his family to East Tennessee. The bulk of his adult life was dedicated to building a successful business and impacting the economic climate of Johnson County.

“Johnson County is a better place, for all of us, because of Danny’s generosity and friendship,” said Mike Taylor, Johnson County Mayor. “Few have contributed as much to the benefit of so many. I will miss his encouragement, enthusiasm, and great love for his country.”

Herman enjoyed sharing how the business began with one truck and a dream. Upon moving to the area, he and his former wife, Barbara, began building their business, Danny Herman Trucking (DHT) Inc. Today, DHT, headquartered in Mountain City, has a fleet of over 400 trucks operating coast to coast and employs hundreds nationwide.

In addition to being a successful businessman, Herman was well known in Johnson County and throughout the state for philanthropic endeavors and participation in civic organizations. Herman was instrumental in reopening a local hospital, forming the Chamber of Commerce of Johnson County, initiating the Trade Days Festival, and securing funds to construct the local Welcome Center on Highway 421.

Always interested in seeing local economic growth, in 1990, Herman saw a great opportunity for jobs in the county and played an integral part in convincing state leaders to construct a correctional facility in Johnson County. Today, the Northeast Correctional Complex is one of the largest local employers, providing hundreds of jobs for the county and its residents.

Herman sought out additional ways to help the county, which led to his involvement with a number of community boards and committees. Some of these appointments included the Johnson County Hospital Board, the Industrial Board, the Chamber of Commerce, and Tourism Board. Herman was also actively involved with the county’s emergency communications program through ham radio operations and the county’s amateur radio club.

A large crowd filed through the Johnson County High School gymnasium on Sunday to pay their final respect to a man who was larger than life at times. A celebration of life service was held by the family immediately following the visitation.

“This marks the passing of a great American and champion of countless local causes, who gave willingly yet often quietly and without fanfare,” said Dennis Shekinah, Owner/Manager at R&D Campground.

When asked by a reporter from this publication a few years back by to describe his proudest achievement while living in Johnson County, Herman smiled and said: “on top of the list is having a plan of raising my children and grandchildren in a good place with the right attitude and work ethic. A good work ethic is so important to succeed.”