March 2022____ There’s much m0re to the Neal Hertzmann story/legacy… than time and space will allow. We ‘ve announced the Celebration of Life scheduled to be Saturday, March 19th (https://www.bigbearlake.net/ETNews/THE-Neal-Hertzmann-) Here’s a brief synopsis of ‘the rest of Neal’s story’ submitted by the Hertzmann Children: Daughter Kim Marnin, Son Steve Hertzmann and Daughter Julie Marada.

‘Born in 1929, Dad always says, ‘I was born at an early age!’  Raised primarily in Gibson City and Champaign, Illinois, young Neal attended school, where he was known to be very good student. While delivering her newspaper, his Latin Teacher told him he needed to be in Latin-4 class.  High School Student Neal said he couldn’t enroll as he hadn’t taken Latin-3! Needless to say, by Fall he found himself enrolled in Latin-4, excelling in both Latin and Math.    

True-to-for the student, Neal also wrestled as well as worked at a local grocery store throughout those high-school years. While studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois, he was enrolled in the ROTC program and was in Pershing Rifles, the military drill team. 

At that time, students were required to take PE in college. Neal took wrestling taught by the college a Soccer coach (?). So… what did he and his wrestling teammates do? they partnered-up and pretty much taught the class themselves. At the end of the semester, his coach suggest that Neal go out for, Soccer.  That was the beginning of Neal’s life-long love of the game, Soccer. 

His senior year, Neal eagerly accepted a job with Douglas Aircraft and moved to sunny California. At age 22, in 1951 Neal Hertzmann received his BS Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

While waiting security clearance, for his at Douglas Aircraft, the U.S. Army called him up as a 2nd Lieutenant. Neal Hertzmann was assigned to the Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he joined the basic training divisions, teaching tank driving and maintenance. Shortly thereafter, he was made Company Commander of a 200+ man group.

Commander Hertzmann serving for two years, then received a Hughes Aircraft Fellowship to attend University of Southern California, where he graduated with an Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1956. 

Neal Hertzmann worked at Hughes Aircraft for the next 35 plus years, primarily in the Space Program. Much of Hertzmann’s work was classified. At Neal’s retirement his government customer, Mr. Iwai, stated “Because of Neal, this country is a much safer place!” 

In 1955, he met Peggy Crutchfield in a company bowling league. Peg was a team substitute, and at first was irritated with Neal, as he always showed up late and then managed to play catch-up of the first three frames, and bowled strikes. The two sweethearts were united in marriage at the Glass Church in Portuguese Bend, California, September 5, 1959. 

They loved Palos Verdes and started their life together there. Soon the couple became  a family of five, their children: Julie Steve and Kim. The Hertzmann’s became charter members of the Ascension Lutheran Church and were active in their children’s sports and activities. Dad-Neal was instrumental in bringing AYSO to PV, and quickly became head referee, coach, and league commissioner. He also coached softball and baseball. Neal served on the Palos Verdes School Board for eight years as well as, the Los Angeles County Committee for School Districts.  


After retiring, in November 1989 the Hertzmann Family relocated to Big Bear Lake, California; for peace and quiet! Well, that didn’t last long! Neal was appointed to the Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power Board in 1993.

In 1994 he was elected to serve the recently incorporated City of Big Bear Lake, as its tenth Mayor. Neal Hertzmann proudly held that position for four years. Neal was heavily involved in the mountain community. He served on Old Miners Days committee and as Old Miners Days Parade Grand Marshal. Neal is a recent President/Governor of Kiwanis Club of Big Bear Valley. Neal was heavily involved in the mountain community. He served on Old Miners Days committee and as Old Miners Days Parade Grand Marshal. Neal is a recent President/Governor of Kiwanis Club of Big Bear Valley and on the Senior Center Board of Directors. He was an active member of Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church and cherished living in “God’s Country.”  

He was an active member of Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church and cherished living in “God’s Country.” Neal and Peg had a loving partnership, working and sharing together for the next forty-three years enj0ying family-life with their children and grandchildren.

Suddenly, Neal’s Peg (her SUV plate reads PEG O MY  ) passed away in 2002, in Big Bear Lake.  

The past eighteen years Neal has been with his companion Sandy Washabaugh a resident of Big Bear Valley.  The two have enjoyed, travelling in their RV, visiting friends and family, as well as camping with their RV group. 

The news of Neal Hertzmann’s passing has ripple throughout SoCal and all those remembering him with love. Some of those are noted below. 

Pamela Heiman (retired Big Bear Valley Library Manager)

Neal was very supportive of so many groups and organizations in the community. It is hard for me to single out where I didn't see him. He was one of the first Kiwanians I met. I could tell immediately, he was sharp! Neal had just been elected Mayor of Big Bear Lake, when the Library staff began requesting from City Council (annually) Literacy Funding, through Community Development Block Grant.  

When the Big Bear Valley Library Literacy program had Spell-a-thon events, Neal was always rounding up contestants and of course participating on the Kiwanis Club of Big Bear Valley team. He was a great speller!

One of the best networkers I’ve ever known, Neal served on the board of the Big Bear Valley Arts Council. I would always see him at events for various organizations such as: Big Bear Chamber, CATS performances, Soroptimist International, Senior Center, Old Miner Days events and the list could go on and on. Neal remembered who you were and always had a kind word to say. He made a great impact on the Big Bear Lake Library and everyone, everywhere in the Valley and is missed by many. 

Mayor Rick Herrick 

Neal Hertzmann loved Big Bear Valley and the people, here. Neal was a mentor to me, as well as many others in the Valley.  I will miss his leadership and guidance. “Neal, thank you for making our home in the sky a better place.”

Michael Perry (retired City Manager) 

Neal Hertzman was a good friend, not just mine, but our entire community's friend.  Public Service was in Neal’s blood. Neal believed we should all care for each other and our Big Bear Valley.  He will be missed. 

David Caretto (retired City Councilman)

I first met Neal Hertzmann when I interviewed with the Big Bear Lake City Council in 1995 for the City Manager position.  Neal was always very cordial with me, and I counted him as a good friend.  While I did not accept the Manager position when offered in 1995, we later bought our cabin in Big Bear Lake and then lived there full-time for over 16 years.  Neal and I saw each other frequently at events around town; he always had something encouraging to say. We also kidded each other a lot, especially after I joined the City Council and then became Big Bear Lake Mayor.  He was always very supportive of me.  I treasured my friendship with Neal and will miss him very much.  He was very intelligent and kind, a real mentor for me in Big Bear Valley.       

Jeff Mathieu (City Manager, 2009-2022)

With the passing of Neal Hertzmann we’ve lost a stellar member of our community. And I personally grieve the loss of a dear friend.I originally met Neal in the 1980’s when he was the President of the Palos Verdes Unified School District Board of Trustees. I knew Neal to be the advocate of the school system that gave my children an exceptional education with a compassionate focus on values.

Upon moving to Big Bear Lake in 1988, Neal was a renown public leader in virtually every organization, board and civic effort that benefited the Big Bear Valley. In particular was his 4-year stint as the Mayor of the City of Big Bear Lake in the mid-1990s. Neal’s leadership resulted in the City’s transition into a spectacular four-season resort while maintaining a genuine foundation as a tightly knit community.

I am so grateful for the fourteen years I had as City Manager in the City of Big Bear Lake with Neal at my side. I had the benefit of his counsel, guidance and friendship. I will always remember and cherish my time with Neal. My prayers and thoughts go out to Steve Hertzmann and all of Neal’s family.         

E T Russell (Editor)

I am so grateful to have met the Hertzmann’s twenty-five years ago and honored that I had the opportunity to compose this article with lots of assistance from Kim Marnin, Steve Hertzmann and Julie Marada. Early on when Peggy and I met we each realized we were from the Panhandle of Texas, therefore having lots to exchange and laugh about. The day she suddenly died we had planned to have photos made together of us wearing our cowgirl hats. 

When Neal was Old Miners Parade Grand Marshal, I interviewed him.  As you can see by the detailed, busy life this man lead, I had my work cutout for me. I quickly learned that Neal was a master proofreader. Many times, thereafter Neal and I would sit on his front porch while he proofed my work.  Through the years I’d check-in with him and get his approval. OOPS! Wonder if he’s proofing this too!    

When many of us gathered at the Chamber Mixers, Neal would purchase many tickets to the drawings,,,, and of course ‘Guess who won many of the prizes!? I’ll miss the man with the kind words and a big smile. Truly ‘He was The Man About Town!


Thanks for the memories!

 EDITOR's Note:  Anyone wishing to comment about your friendship with Neal may send to ETbigbear@gmail.com 

The  Family thanks you.