After a valiant effort to live with a debilitating disease for over 30 years, Paul quietly passed away at home in the company of his loving wife of 38 years, Cheryl. Throughout his lifetime of dealing with multiple sclerosis, Paul exhibited a fighting spirit, one that led him to craft his personal life philosophy. He fervently believed, that because of his MS, he touched more lives and with a deeper impact, than if he had not dealt with the disease.
He certainly was an inspiration to all who knew him. Never did he let this disease limit his life or hold him back in any way. He continued to share his very dry sense of humor and his love of jokes. Those who knew him could always count on his trademark, a very memorable “eyeroll.”
Paul was born in Iowa and raised in Vallejo, California. He graduated from Sacramento State in 1972, and in 1973 began his teaching career of twenty years. He taught students in grades three through eight at Golden West, Shasta, and McParland Schools in Manteca. Even after his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in the late 1970’s, Paul persevered and continued to teach for an additional thirteen years. Nothing could keep him out of the classroom and so, after his retirement in 1993, he volunteered in classrooms until 2009. He had so much passion for teaching math and brain games that he became known as “Mr. Herken-math”. He organized and participated in Family Nights, offering math and science activities for families. His students, their families, and his fellow teachers all described him as being devoted, patient, inspiring, and dedicated. Paul had a unique “aura” about him that seemed to draw people, kids and adults to him. Many of his students will tell you he was their all-time favorite teacher.
Paul’s wife, Cheryl, would always speak of her husband’s fighting spirit and steadfast love. He was a great listener who consistently expressed his love and appreciation for her dedicated care. He encouraged and supported her participation in outside activities, knowing she needed that time. She describes him as her true partner. They shared a love of life, of social events and activities, of sports, and of everything they were able to do together. One might use the word “soulmates” to describe their loving relationship.
In addition to his wife, Cheryl, Paul’s family included brother Vern and his wife, Gail, brother Tony and his wife, Betty, his sister Luann Bearden and her husband, Jack, as well as numerous nieces and nephews including his godchild, Kristen. He was predeceased by his parents Delores and Vern and his brother, Jim.
A memorial service for Paul will be held on Sunday, May 22 at 2:00 pm at Calvary Community Church, 815 W. Lathrop Road, in Manteca. Memorial gifts may be made to a charity of your choice or True Love Rescue, 1040 Kettleman Ln #140, Lodi, CA 95240, 501c non-profit, tax ID 47-1921056 . Paul supported Cheryl’s involvement in this rescue. The puppies she fostered brought Paul joy as he watched them play.
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Tuesday, May 17, 2016