Robert Herdman's obituary in The Herald on Tuesday noted he had worked a lifetime at Bowater - from summer jobs as a teen to vice president of manufacturing for the North American paper and saw mills - retiring in 1990 after 40 years with the company.
What the obituary did not mention was Herdman's bond with Bowater. It was as if Bowater coursed through his veins. Bowater was Bob's destiny.
Bob Herdman was the first baby boy born at the Corner Brook hospital in Newfoundland, Canada, on Nov. 21, 1925. Corner Brook was a three-horse town then - You worked at the military base, you went to sea to fish, or you worked at the Bowater mill. Bob's dad was the mill's treasurer.
His dad's status did not pave the way for his son. One of Bob's first mill jobs was on a crew, cutting timber. As the junior member, he rode in the rear of the pickup truck. Older crew members rode in the truck's cab, where they chewed tobacco, releasing their spit into the wind - and into Bob's face. He came home, his face flecked in orange and brown. His mother was horrified. He said it was tree sap, his daughters recalled.
The understandings of how mill people worked - forged by getting out of the office and into the woods and walking production floors - was the hallmark of his career. His father, William, "was a man's man," said Janet Dukes, the youngest of Bob's four daughters.
"Dad added family to that," she said, understanding that everything at the mill was driven by satisfied employees. He knew every employee's name, as well as their wives' and children's names.
"He worked in every position and knew the mill inside and out," said daughter Robin Paul.
Herdman, colleague Clarence Hornsby said, "had integrity, honesty - He was concerned about everyone he met."
Hornsby and Herdman worked their way up the corporate ladder together. Sometimes Clarence was the boss, sometimes Bob was the boss. "He was the better boss," Clarence said.
The obituary notes that Herdman, a college-trained engineer, came to Rock Hill to be the manager of the Hardboard Mill in Catawba.
What it doesn't say was that Herdman and his wife, Joan, arrived in Rock Hill in 1964 with four girls, ages 1, 3, 5, and 8 1/2. The Canadian-born sisters had never eaten fried food and the youngest, Janet, struggled to understand the Southern accent. Their first home was a room at the Andrew Jackson Hotel, down the street from St. John's United Methodist Church.
Bowater jobs took Herdman to Greenwich, Conn., and Greenville before he returned to the area, turning a small cottage on Lake Wylie into a home. He became a lay leader at St. John's church, and the organizational skills that served him at Bowater served him at church, too.
Irving Plowden, a friend from St. John's, remembers Morris Morgan chairing a meeting that Bob missed because of work. Morgan said, "Bob is like God, he thinks about us when we're not thinking about him," Plowden remembers.
During their time in Rock Hill, the Herdmans owned houses on Lucas Street and then College Avenue, filling each with love, laughter and expectations.
On Wednesday, the daughters and their mother shared the laughter, recalling their favorite memories. Joan remembered the first time she noticed Bob, a friend of the family. He made fun of her new winter coat. "I got real upset," she said. Two years later, they were married. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in May.
She recalled a 1959 garden party in Corner Brook when she and Bob met Queen Elizabeth.
Joan and her daughters remembered a visit to St. John's one Sunday, horrified when they saw Bob was wearing socks of different colors. He was color blind. "I put his socks out after that," Joan said.
His impairment did not keep him from taking his daughters to the mountains to see the fall colors. "He was an unselfish man, who took us places where we were oohing and aahing, and he didn't have a clue what was going on," Robin said.
They remembered the mill smell that permeated their father's clothes and his car.
"That rotten-egg smell was so embarrassing," said daughter Susan Herdman. She remembers her father replied, "That smells like money to me, girls."
Most of all, they fondly recall the poetry he wrote for them. Each month in recent years, he sent an email with an eight-line poem for his girls and their families. They anxiously awaited his monthly efforts. Special poems were written for holidays.
Herdman died Saturday surrounded by family and friends.
"I asked him if he was ready to go," Clarence Hornsby said. "He said he was. He was a good man."
A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at St. John's United Methodist Church.
Family friend Geri Alexander helped the sisters write their dad's obituary. Alexander said Bob Herdman taught her gentlemen pulled out chairs for women, helped them put on their coats, opened the door for them.
"He was chivalrous," Alexander said.
The word perplexed the Herdman sisters, sending them to the dictionary to see what it meant. It was a habit that Bob Herdman had instilled in his daughters early in their childhood. The habit reached beyond his death.
They liked the definition, they found; it described their father.
He was, they agreed, a gentleman and a gentle man.