On Thursday March 3, 2016, the Hudson Valley LGBTQ community was rattled with the news of the sudden passing of Tracy Hermann, the Executive Director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center and City of Poughkeepsie Common Councilman. The excerpt below, originally published in The Poughkeepsie Journal, tells some of Hermann’s story and shares information about his services being held on Tuesday March 8th and Wednesday March 9th.
When Geoffrey Bliss began working at Hudson River Housing last year, he said he met an inspiring local councilman who brought energy and passion to the work being done throughout the City of Poughkeepsie.
That man was Tracy Hermann.
Hermann, the 52-year-old 8th ward councilman who died Thursday of an apparent heart attack, was honored in a memorial ceremony at city hall Friday. His funeral services have been set for next week, according to his obituary.
“He quickly became one of the most inspiring and welcoming people for me personally when I started working in Poughkeepsie,” Bliss said. “His energy and his passion and charisma was undeniable and incredible. I had to be here.”
Tears were shed and kind words were spoken as Mayor Rob Rolison and Common Council Chairman Christopher Petsas laid a wreath on the city hall’s memorial bell.
“He was a wonderful public servant, he cared about everybody,” Matt Hermann-McNamara said. “I’m absolutely heartbroken. He had so much he wanted to do.”
A wake for Hermann will be held on Tuesday at the William G. Miller & Son Funeral Home on Hooker Avenue in Poughkeepsie. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Christ Episcopal Church on Carroll Street in Poughkeepsie.
Petsas called Hermann a pioneer in the city of many causes close to his heart, including gay rights, transparency in city government and land preservation.
“A lot of pain were in those faces,” Petsas said of ceremony attendees. “He was the pride of the south side. He was our most popular councilman.”
“The whole city lost a friend,” Rolison said. “Thinking about Tracy and what he meant to so many of us, he was a dedicated father, dedicated husband and a dedicated neighbor. He was the example of what a public official is supposed to look like.”
Herman had been named the executive director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in Kingston this past January.
“When he joined us at the center, we all felt our spirits fill,” said Vanessa Shelmandine, director of programs for the organization. “He was a big man with so much love. I think about the twinkling blue eyes, and how there was a smile for everyone.”
Bliss, like all of those who close to the councilman, was stunned to hear the news of his death.
“I was completely shocked. I didn’t think it was real,” he said. “I think we all owe it to be here for Tracy. He’s done a lot for Poughkeepsie and he would have done so much more if he wasn’t taken from us.”
Rolison said the city will continue to feel the impact of Hermann’s passing going forward.
“This loss is immeasurable,” he said.
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This story was originally published by The Poughkeepsie Journal on March 4, 2016.