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Old Age & Treachery Will Always Overcome Youth & Skill

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Herb Hilburn Story

Old Age & Treachery Will Always Overcome Youth & Skill. Herb Hilburn was the central region manager for I&SE for many years. He was a big Texan, field engineer, father, family friend, boss and a so-so golfer. He loved to play golf, but he was far from a scratch golfer. Herbie and his wife Inez would play golf with my parents and the Steinway’s (who lived next door to Herbie. In the central region we would have a huge company meeting at a resort in the Lake of the Ozarks called Tan Tara. It was a gigantic sprawling lake resort with lots to do. I feel sorry for the management because once a year about 100 drunken field engineers would descend upon the other guests and hotel staff. Wives were invited and many girl friends were smuggled in. These were all the engineers from the field offices of: Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Omaha. A list of some of the names I can still remember (forgive the spelling) are: Herb Hilburn “Herbie”, Ed Rankin, Wayne Vandergriff, Muggs Norris, Mel Black, John Micha, Steve Ritter “mumbles”, Pat Bauer, Frank Ross, Paul Steinway, Kelly McGrath, Earl Player, Bill Sissel, Dave Cathey “the rabbit”, Monty Waters, Bob Balsbaugh ”flush king”, Charlie Alexander, Wayne Hetzel, Bob Bell, Brian Shulty, Tom “madman”Manzella, Kevin Wigel, John Garret “catman”, Paul Pennington, Mark Stalens, George Jongling, Bruce Gouche’, Marvin Sindell, forklift Bill Brown, Kirk Doughty, Dave Pemberton, Dick Todd, Phil Todd, (no relation) Owen Zinkey, Barry Sibul and many more I can’t recall. We had a keg on wheels that we would roll from party to party. Managers were very careful not to get too close to a pool because they would be unceremoniously tossed into the pool with shoes, watch & wallet. Muggs was one of the victims. This was payback time for being sent on some lousy field assignment.

That sets the scene for the annual golf outing. One year Herbie had a bad knee and couldn’t play. You can’t keep a good Texan down, so he parked his golf cart at the tee of a par 3 hole. As each engineer rolled up, he would ask them for one of their balls. You couldn’t say NO since he was the manager of the entire central region. Then he explained to everyone in the foursome that they were challenged to a “closest to the pin” contest for $5.00 each. All of the young buck engineers figured, we can beat this white haired old man, no problem. We have youth and skill on our side and the old man is wearing a cast! Here is where the treachery fits in. This was no ordinary par 3. The green was about 100 feet below the tee and out of site! You were literally shooting off of a cliff. Most golfers (myself included) would hit way over the green because from the edge of the cliff, it looked like the green was far, far away. The secret was to simply use a pitching wedge to barely chip over the edge of the cliff, then gravity and physics would do the rest. Herbie was always careful to shoot last as to not give away the secret. After each shot everyone would look over the edge of the cliff to see where (in the rough), their ball went. Herbie would gently chip it over the cliff and land his ball close to the pin at which point he would put out his hand and collect $20 bucks from everyone in the foursome. By the end of the day he had several hundred bucks! Plus, he was smart enough to use your ball so he never had to go and retrieve his ball. So this proves the theory that, Old Age & Treachery Will Always Overcome Youth & Skill.

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Last modified Thursday, Feb-17-2005 02:27 PM

Tan Tara float trips

Posted by jgarrett at Monday, Feb-28-2005 01:41 PM
One year Herb got pared with Tom Homan in a canoe. Herb is an experienced sailor and can handle many types of craft. Herb offered the stern or bow to Tom and Tom took the helm at the stern. Unfortunately Tom had very little or no experience with a canoe. Their canoe careened off of banks and overhanging limbs. Herb was dragged through the branches at each bend of the river. All directions and words of wisdom at maneuvering the vessel fell on deaf ears. Herb eventually gave up offering suggestions to Tom. I overheard Herb conversing with Carol Slusher that he would figure some way to get even. Perhaps that is why Carol’s freshly laundered canvas tennis shoes were foaming up with soap suds after wading around in the river while pulling out the canoes.
BTW: The reason I got saddled with “Cat Man” was I picked up a wandering cat at the Holiday Inn pool in Marion, IL. The stray went berserk and scratched and bit me. My right hand was pierced by the cat’s teeth and swelled up to twice the size by next morning. This happened just before an annual meeting at “Tan Tara”. My doctors instructions were to keep my hand elevated. My elbow was propped on the table with my hand in the air. Every speaker at the employee meeting paused and asked if I had a question. (Oreo anyone?)

Herb's Obituary

Posted by edramey at Tuesday, Feb-19-2008 12:32 PM
Herbert S. Hilburn Jr.
Herbert S. Hilburn Jr. Herbert Spencer Hilburn Jr., 78, loving and beloved husband, father, grandpa and friend, departed this life on Jan. 4, 2006, following one hell of a fight with Alzheimer's and prostate cancer. "Herbie" as his family, friends and anyone who had the pleasure to meet him called him, was born in Plainview on May 13, 1927, to Herb Sr. and Ora Hilburn. Father, Herb Sr., the owner and editor of the Plainview Herald newspaper, was very active in city and state civic affairs. He was a highly decorated captain in WWI and was in the first graduation class of Southern Methodist University. Mother Ora kept the home activities in order with Herb Jr. and his two siblings. Older sister Ada Crager, Texas Tech graduate, retired from teaching who lived in Canyon preceded him in death. Younger brother Bob, Texas University graduate, was the sports editor of the Plainview Herald and also very active in civic and sports affairs. He passed away in 1968 after a long long battle with rheumatoid arthritis, leaving a legacy of friendships that not many have known the like. Herbert met Inez, his soul mate of 59 years, in first grade and dated in high school. After high school Inez went to Texas Tech and Herbie went to Texas A&M in an Army program. From there Herbie left for WWII and was in France. While in France he was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and returned home. In January 1947 he returned to Texas A&M. He and Inez were married March 30, 1947, and while Herbie was attending Texas A&M Inez worked on campus supporting their new lifestyle. Graduating from Texas A&M in 1949 with a BSEE, he and Inez made their first move to Schenectady, N.Y., and began a 35-year career with General Electric Co. The family moved 22 times during Herbie's advancements with G.E. from Texas, Oklahoma, New York, ending in Chicago, Ill. Herbie's normal positive attitude was the spirit of the moves because they were not losing old friends but were going to start new relationships. During one of the moves to Oklahoma City, he was the project manager for the largest gas and steam power plant in the world at that time. He was hospitalized with a recurrence of rheumatic fever when the plant was ready to start up and go on line. He was giving instructions to on-site engineers for the start-up procedure from the hospital when he determined other support actions were needed. Against his doctor's wishes, dressed in his hospital gown and tied to an intravenous tube, Inez drove him to the plant site and the start-up procedure was completed. This was a common Herbie attitude towards family, friends, church, job and life. "If you give more than is expected you will reap the benefits." At the time of retirement he was the manager of Mechanical and Nuclear Services for the Mid-Western Region of G.E. He was an active member in the Methodist Church in all of the locations he lived, holding many different positions supporting the church. He was an active member in the Church at Horseshoe Bay. He also served on the Municipal Utility District (MUD) Board and was involved in many ambitious building projects. He was a director and past president of the Horseshoe Bay Property Owners Association. Herbie and Inez loved traveling with the Horseshoe Bay 6-pack, which consisted of their great friends James and Vivian Huie and Pete and Gene Dysart. They traveled to many parts of the world. Captain Herb found his greatest pleasure while sailing in the British Virgin Islands with family and friends. Herbie had many other interests including hunting, fishing, golf and camping. He started the legendary "Canada Trip" in 1972 and guided approximately 15 excursions of family and friends into the Boundary Waters Area of Quetico Park Canada. On these trips the lessons, teachings and stories that Herbie passed along to family and friends were invaluable in the upbringing and education about life. He found joy in life and people and brought out the goodness in everyone because of the kindness and generosity he gave to them. Survivors include his beloved wife of 58 years, Inez; two sons and daughters-in-law, Spence and wife Linda of Marietta, Ga., and Ted and wife Mary Beth of Dallas; beloved daughter Caroline preceded him in death; three grandsons, Herbert Spencer Hilburn IV and Josh Hilburn of Marietta, Ga., Nicholas Biagini and wife Rachel of Bovina; two granddaughters, Nadja and Joey Biagini of Dewitt, Mich.; son-in-law Mike Biagini and wife Nada of Dewitt, Mich.; brother-in-law Kenneth and wife Joyce of Houston; nephews and nieces include Tom Andrews and wife Anne of New Braunfels, Kathleen Andrews Comardo and husband Matt of Houston, Mack Andrews and wife Susan of Austin, Randall Andrews and wife Debbie of San Antonio, Bruce Crager and wife Karen of Houston, Teddi Cherry and husband Dale of Dallas, Jack Crager and wife Vivian of New York and many friends around the country. The memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006, at the Church of Horseshoe Bay. In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions to the charity of their choice in remembrance of Herbie. Arrangements are handled by Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home in Marble Falls. Special thanks from the family to the Llano Hospice and Windchimes Assisted Living Center who helped in Herbie's final year. Also to the sitters and friends who lent their support and prayer. Great Ride, cowboy! Gig 'em, Aggies!


Published in the Plainview Daily Herald from 1/6/2006 - 1/7/2006.

Inez passed away in December of 2007. We have lost two great individuals who really cared about the folks that worked in the Central Region.
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