Family Said Pilot Died Doing What He Loved

Franque Thompson

NICKERSON (KPTM)- A passion for flying becomes fatal for one man. 92-year-old Robert "Vince" was killed in a plane crash Thursday evening in Blair, Neb. Herrick was flying his 1946 Ercoupe when it crashed at Woodhouse Ford car dealership.

"You know we're sad, but there's no need to be sad. He went out on his own terms. I mean, how many get to do that?" said son-in-law Steve Fauss.

Herrick's family said he was a good pilot and had been flying for more than 70 years. They weren't expecting Thursday's flight to be his last.

"It was a shock and an abrupt end to his life but that's way better than being incapacitated and laying around somewhere. That would have been horrible for him," said Fauss.

Herrick was a resident in Nickerson for more than 40 years. He was a known favorite with the children in his community.

"I always liked him, I thought he was pretty cool. He'd get out and work his tail off every day for the community and built a park for the kids," said friend and neighbor Joe Davis.

Herrick had the "Be-Be Herrick Memorial Park" named after his late wife about eight years ago. Each year he would put up Christmas lights for all the children to enjoy and they would stay up through new years. Fauss said Herrick just put up this years set of Christmas lights a week ago. Davis said he wonders who will take on that tradition now that Herrick has passed.

"He's not going to be to here anymore so it will be different but it will be maintained because the city has said they will maintain the park," said Fauss.

"All the kids in town loved him. He was good to the kids and he was just a wonderful person to me," said Davis.

Those who cared for Herrick said even though his life ended tragically, they all find comfort knowing he lived a full life doing what he loved.

Fauss said his father-in-law never flew his plane that late in the day or that far away from home. Herrick's family said they have no idea what went wrong. They believe a medical problem could have been a factor in the crash. The FAA said the crash is still under investigation.