Herb Golenpaul passed away at his home in Sonoma on Dec. 13, 2013. He was born on Aug. 16, 1921, in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he spent his early years until leaving home to become a signal corps inspector for the U.S. government at about age 20. At the onset of World War II, Herb enlisted in the Army Air Corps, leaving as a first lieutenant in 1946 to return to New York. Working as an electrician, his last job was as foreman on the United Nations Secretariat Building in that city.
Herb was recalled to active duty in the U.S. Air Force in May 1951 and remained in the service until May 1965, when he was honorably discharged with the rank of major. During his years of military service, he was able to attend classes at some of the nation’s most prestigious academies, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Rutgers and MIT.
From 1965 to 1981, Herb worked in various kinds of manufacturing until a severe heart attack followed by multiple bypass surgery forced his retirement, though certainly not to a life of leisure. From that time on, his principal efforts were voluntary.
For more than 30 years, Herb was a dedicated volunteer and board member of On Lok Senior Health Services, a Bay Area nonprofit organization committed to serving frail, low-income seniors through the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Herb maintained a strong advocating leadership presence on the On Lok Senior Health Services Board until his illness overtook him. His level of commitment, dedication and energetic enthusiasm will be greatly missed by the On Lok family.
During 23 of the years with On Lok, Herb also volunteered with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, acting as a staff officer, including division captain, for all but one year. His prime functions were teaching boating safety, crew operations training, safety patrols and vessel safety checks. In collaboration with the DMV, Herb also set up a booth at its Corte Madera facility which he kept stocked with educational pamphlets, ran a video of the Coast Guard’s various activities, and personally manned every single Friday for many years. At Herb’s final meeting with his fellow members of Flotilla 14, they presented him with a book they had produced in which many of them had written of how he had effected each of them personally: as mentor, inspiration, guide, flotilla historian, and by “keeping his cool in tough situations.” Vivid photographs illustrated Herb at work and play during his 6,025 hours of service, for which he received nearly 50 awards.
After moving to Sonoma in 2003, Herb developed an interest in supporting concerns of his neighbors regarding park owners’ seeking ways to greatly increase rents for mobile home “spaces.” He joined Pueblo Serena’s Homeowners Association, and began attending Sonoma City Council meetings, quickly becoming a constant presence, regularly addressing the council on issues pertaining to the community. Although at times Herb was brutally honest in his opinions, the council valued his presence and input, and respected his courage to tell the truth as he saw it, even to those reluctant to hear it. He was a seeker of solutions and improvements who made a difference in all those places where he served and will be sorely missed.