Russ Herron Poetry Fund
The Russ Herron Poetry Fund was created in 1999 to honor a beloved family man and community member who passed away suddenly on January 15 of that year. His wife Pat describes Russ as being well loved in the community. “He was very likable and very active in the community. He was on the founding board for Art Reach, helped with the funding for the Veterans Memorial Library and involved in many other civic projects.” Russ was not only loved in the community but loved the community as well. The Herrons were married for 39 years and had two children.
Russ was involved with writing for much of his life. He was a journalist at the Illinois State Register and Eastern Illinois University before moving to Michigan, where he worked at Central Michigan University for 40 years in journalism and University Administration.
Russ developed his passion for poetry as he moved closer to retirement. After Russ passed, his family thought that a poetry fund would be a fitting way to honor him. The Russ Herron Poetry Fund supports grants to various projects in the local community such as poetry workshops and readings. “Poetry is very important; the voices especially of old and young people need to be heard. I would like to see poetry events with better attendance so more people can be reached,” said Pat.
The Fund has given grants to many different programs. One such program is the Wellspring Series, which is headed by CMU professor, Robert Fanning. This series is a combination of poetry and music. CMU students and faculty read their poetry and musicians perform; established poets from around the state also participate. The program takes place on the first Monday of every month. Pat is very pleased with the attendance and is happy that the Russ Herron Poetry Fund is able to contribute.
Although unable to remember the specific source, Pat shared the following insights on the importance of poetry: In dark and troubled times, ancient peoples turned to poets and mystics to find solace, understanding, and inspiration. Those old “knowers” knew that whenever we are lost, or “at a loss”, the soul is nearby.