Steven Herb Obituary (2021) – State College, Pennsylvania

Steven Lee Herb Steven Lee Herb, 69, of State College – husband, father, grandfather, stepfather, son, brother, uncle, friend and beloved mentor – died Tuesday, December 21 at Hershey Medical Center, surrounded by his family and holding the hand of his wife, Sara. He demonstrated his trademark warmth, wit and kindness until the end, befriending and joking with his nurses and comforting his family by making them laugh through their tears. Steven was born in 1952 in Stoney Creek Mills, Pa. To the late Walter S. Herb and Barbara Homan Herb. The first grandchild in the family, Steven’s arrival sparked great excitement, especially from his maternal grandfather, Paul Homan, who proudly took his new grandchild for a walk around the neighborhood to show it off to his friends. Growing up alongside his two brothers in a close-knit extended family, Steven’s childhood in Stoney Creek provided the material for many of his most beloved stories, which captured life’s ordinary magic and everyday humor. . His love of books and reading developed early on, helped by his third grade teacher who gave him his copy of the classic Edward Eager children’s tale Half Magic, which has remained a favorite throughout his life, which ‘he was delighted to share with his daughters and granddaughter. several years later. Steven was the first in his family to attend college, obtaining a BS in Special Education from Penn State University in 1974. It was during this time at Penn State that Steven met his future wife. After getting an assignment to observe a special education class at the campus school, Steven entered the classroom closest to the front door and was immediately captivated by the charming and engaging teacher who was leading the class inside. He asked around, found out her name was Sara, and made it his mission to meet her as soon as possible. In Sara, he not only met his lifelong companion, but also his daughter Annie, who also became his lifelong daughter. Steven and Sara married in 1978 and Maggie was born in 1979, completing their family of four. Steven went on to obtain a master’s degree in library science from Clarion University. He then worked as a children’s librarian at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, MD and then spent over 10 years as the Children’s Services Coordinator for the Dauphin County Library System in Harrisburg, PA, developing dynamic and innovative programs and services to support children’s literacy. He completed his doctorate. in Early Childhood Education and Literacy at Penn State in 1987, and was honored to return to his alma mater in 1992, where he became director of the Educational and Behavioral Sciences Library. In addition, he was subsequently appointed Affiliate Professor of Language Education and Literacy, and in 2000 became the founding director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, a resource-providing affiliate of the Library of Congress. , programs and new initiatives to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy in Pennsylvania. During his years as a director, he launched several national awards, including the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, and the Baker’s Dozen Thirteen Best Picture Books for Family Literacy. He also led the genesis and expansion of the Pennsylvania Literary and Cultural Heritage Online Maps, a project that received the Boorstin Award for Creative Initiatives from the Library of Congress. In 2007, Steven was appointed Follett President and Visiting Professor at the Dominican University Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences. This post, reserved for professors already known in the field for their distinguished research, was one of only four holders of chairs in library schools at the time of his appointment. By the time he retired in 2017, Steven had received numerous professional awards and honors, although he is particularly proud to have been named “Most Innovative Teacher” by the Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning at Penn State. . Steven has been a dedicated leader of the American Library Association for over 35 years, holding many leadership positions within the organization, most notably as President of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), in serving on the Newbery Awards Committee and as Chairman of the Caldecott Awards Committee in 2012. In 2018, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the ALSC, a prestigious award that honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to service library for children. Most importantly, Steven was a storyteller and a writer, with a sharp wit and a knack for capturing everyday life in all of its humor, absurdity, and joy; a generous colleague, mentor and teacher; a caring friend and neighbor; a devoted son, brother and uncle; a dad who would always be there to grab his daughter when she hopped off a picnic table in his arms or drop everything, get in the car and drive 100 miles if she calls him in tears; a husband who convinced a construction worker to look away as he stole a doorknob from the classroom where he first saw Sara, then commissioned a woodworker to shape it into a door – hats he gave her as a birthday present; and a man whose spirit will live on forever in the lives of those he touched through the stories they will remember and tell about him. Steven is survived by his wife of 43 years, Sara Willoughby-Herb; two daughters, Annie Zannetti (Mike) and Maggie Herb (Jim Gates); one granddaughter, Sylvia Zannetti; two brothers, Paul Herb and David Herb; one uncle, Raymond Herb; a nephew, Daniel Herb; nieces Allison Herb, Rachel Winterstine, Caitlin Herb and Wednesday Willoughby. The family plans to have a celebration of life for family and friends in the spring or summer. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Steven can be made to the Steven L. Herb Literary Legacy Fund at the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Checks should be made payable to Penn State University Libraries and mailed to: Penn State University Libraries Development: 510 Paterno Library, University Park PA 16802. Please note the Steven L. Herb Literary Legacy Fund on your check. Arrangements are in the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences can be presented by visiting

Posted by Reading Eagle December 24-26, 2021.


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