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Mourning a man of ‘quiet strength’

Colleagues remember South Florida’s Frank Herhold, who died in December at 76, as a soft-spoken leader and caring mentor.

Frank Herhold, whose influence on the industry extended well beyond his role as president of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, died Dec. 5 in Fort Lauderdale. He was 76.

During Herhold’s 20-year tenure as MIASF president (1990 to 2010), membership more than doubled, to about 800. He led the MIASF through a variety of challenges, including the luxury tax of the early 1990s, manatee and environmental regulations, longshore insurance reform and the evolutionary growth of the MIASF-owned Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

“Frank was the consummate gentleman,” says Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Always pleasant. Always upbeat and cheerful. Frank was a ‘can do’ guy. He was very effective at bringing people together to work collectively on challenges facing his membership and our industry.”

On social media, industry colleagues said they were shocked. Many had chatted with him at the Fort Lauderdale show, which ran Nov. 5-9. He also attended a press conference that week at which approval was announced for the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale — an endeavor he had supported for the past dozen years and a reflection of his continued advocacy for boating issues after retiring as MIASF president.

“As I waited to hear from you Saturday, did I ever think that our Friday night conversation would be our last. Not then, and not now,” Barry S. Flanigan Sr. wrote on Herhold’s Facebook page. “Your smile, wisdom, sharing and caring guided us both and many others through a long and endearing relationship over many years.”

“I can’t think of a single significant moment in my career, both through the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and Ward’s Marine Electric, that Frank wasn’t a part of,” says Kristina Hebert, past president of MIASF, chief operating officer of Ward’s Electric and fellow advocate for the boating industry.

“He introduced and inspired me to participate in the legislative process locally, statewide and federally,” Hebert says. “Frank was my mentor as a board of directors [member] and even as the president, always making sure I was listening and leading to the best of my abilities. That said, family always came first for Frank. His family, and especially grandkids, were everything. He never once had a conversation with me that did not include asking me how my kids were, as well. I feel very lucky to have worked with him for so many years and will cherish every minute.”

Herhold’s sister, niece and nephew were among hundreds who posted tributes on his Facebook page. Many referred to him as a mentor and someone deeply committed to the boating industry and his community, and above all, to his family and friends.

A community leader

Herhold was involved with several community organizations and sat on a number of boards, including those of the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, Broward Alliance, Winterfest and Riverwalk. He had represented MIASF interests with such groups as the Coast Guard Harbor Safety Committee, the Coast Guard Area Maritime Security Committee and the U.S. Superyacht Association.

That sort of community activism was a hallmark of his tenure at MIASF.

“Our community agenda has gone well beyond 33 years of waterway cleanup and 14 years of the Plywood Regatta kids’ boatbuilding contest, and today MIASF and our members are active participants in virtually any activity or event even remotely connected with the water,” Herhold told Soundings Trade Only in a 2010 Q&A. “The community agenda focuses on ensuring that our marine industry and MIASF are always seen as good corporate citizens of the community, and members enjoy the opportunity to meet with others outside the industry for the benefit of their marine businesses.”

In 2007 Fort Lauderdale named Herhold its “citizen of the year,” and in 2010 he served as commodore of the Winterfest boat parade.

Before coming to Fort Lauderdale, Herhold owned and operated the Anchorage Eau Gallie Marina in Melbourne, Fla., a full-service marina and a major dealer for Chris-Craft and Boston Whaler. Herhold earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Monmouth (Ill.) College.

He lived in the Idlewild area of Fort Lauderdale, just off the Intracoastal Waterway and across from Bahia Mar with his wife, Mary Jo. His other immediate family includes a daughter and two grandchildren.

“I am so saddened by this news,” NMMA export director Julie Balzano said in an email from Cuba. “Frank was a mentor to me and such an important person in our industry.”

An outpouring continued on social media throughout the week of his death. Julie Berry posted a photo taken by Herhold’s wife, Mary Jo, of Berry with Herhold at the Lauderdale Marine Center.

“I lost a very dear friend and business partner over the weekend,” Berry wrote. “Frank was my mentor and my friend. He taught me so much about the marine industry, incorporated me into this wonderful world, introduced me to great people and to new friends, to [the U.S. Superyacht Association] and MIASF and taught me advocacy for the right reasons. He amazed me every day with his knowledge and ability to contact someone anywhere in the state to inquire about marine issues and how joyful they were to talk to him.”

Herhold had worked closely with Kitty McGowan, director of the U.S. Super-yacht Association, who wrote the following: “Since hearing the news of his untimely passing, I’ve struggled to find the words to commemorate my friend and mentor. After spending years working as a chef on yachts, he gave me the opportunity to make the jump to land. So many memories and great stories have flooded my thoughts from our many years working together and time since working in the yachting industry together.

“The one thing that continues to bubble to the surface was Frank’s endless kindness and support. He always had time to help out or simply lend an ear,” McGowan wrote. “He never met a stranger that he didn’t convert to friend and his love for the boating industry was unwavering. He was an inspiration!”

Services were held Dec. 11 at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale. A reception celebrating Herhold’s life followed at the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

The MIASF quickly announced that it is dedicating a scholarship in Herhold’s name through its education fund, and said the family asks that those who wish to contribute in his memory send their gifts to MIASF, 2312 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue.


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