Fred Deen Herring departed this life suddenly on May 20, 2022 as he was preparing to go fishing with his family to celebrate his 83rd birthday. Fred was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, on May 17, 1939, to Lafayette Brown Herring and Fredeen Beaird Herring. A sunny child with bright blond curls, he moved with his parents and his older brother Lafayette Brown Herring Jr. to Jackson, Mississippi, before eventually settling on Reba Drive in Houston, Texas. In Houston, he made lifelong friends who called themselves the “Reba Rats.” Fred attended River Oaks Elementary School and St. John’s School, where he played football, ran track, performed in plays, served as Head Prefect and graduated in 1957. He received his B.S. in Geology from Yale University in 1961.
Fred joined the United States Naval Reserve in 1961, and after completing Officer Candidate School, served on the USS Newport News (CA-148) TAD to Staff of Commander Second Fleet. On the Newport News, he handled signals and communications, with Cosmic/Top Secret (Crypto) Security Clearance. Stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, he rekindled a college friendship with Helen “Polly” Chapman and her fiancé and spent evenings in port dining at her grandmother’s home. Discovering a mutual love for British history, he and Polly soon eloped, marrying over a drugstore in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on July 30, 1962.
In 1965, Fred, Polly, and their two children Lucy and Fred Jr. moved to Houston, where he and Polly had their third child, Hilary, and Fred joined First City National Bank as a Management Trainee. He handled real estate financing and was elected Vice President in 1970. From 1974 to 1981, he served as President and CEO, then Chairman of the Board and CEO of First City Bank of Highland Village. In 1981, he went back downtown to serve First City as Executive Vice President, manager of the Retail Division. After First City dissolved, Fred was President of South Main Bank and served the Redstone Group at Northwest and Whitney Banks.
Among other civic engagements, he was President of River Oaks Little League, Director of the St. John’s School Alumni Association, Director and Treasurer of St. Charles Bay Hunting Club, Director and Treasurer of Magic Circle Lions Club, Business Chairmen for the American Heart Association, volunteered at St. John the Divine with homebound parishioners, and served faithfully as Class Representative for St. John’s School until his death.
Upon retiring in 2004, Fred happily dedicated himself to reading history and mysteries, attending his grandchildren’s sports games and performances, hunting, fishing, travelling with his family, and being the consummate grandfather. He was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, River Oaks Country Club, the Yale Club of New York City, St. Charles Bay Hunting Club, Sarabande, and the Tejas Breakfast Club.
He is predeceased by his parents, his brother Lafayette Brown Herring, and his wife of 44 years, Helen “Polly” Chapman Herring. He is survived by his daughter Lucy Herring Chambers, her husband Samuel Thomas Chambers, and their children Alice Marion Chambers and Sallie Linden Chambers; his son, Fred Deen Herring Jr. and his wife Melisa Billingsley Herring; his daughter Hilary Herring Smith, her husband Paul Nugent Smith, and their children Paul Nugent Smith Jr., Henry Gardner Smith, and Evelyn Iverson Smith; his dear lady friend Pene Pettit Moore; and many close extended family members. Big Fred exuded equanimity, intelligence, humor, and generosity. He opened his heart and his home to a wide group of extended family and shared wonderful stories with friends he made everywhere he went. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
After a private burial, Fred’s life will be celebrated in a memorial service at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church at 2450 River Oaks Boulevard at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, 2022. Serving as honorary pall bearers are Waller Thomas Burns, Robert S. Frost, William Franklin Kelly Jr., James Carroll Kempner II, Matthew Paul Kenneally, Robert Wales Kirkland, Rodney H. Margolis, Timothy Morgan McDaniel, John Irvin McHenry, Norman Reynolds and M.S. Stude.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John’s School, 2401 Claremont Lane, Houston, TX 77019; Episcopal High School, 4650 Bissonnet, Bellaire, TX 77401; Coastal Conservation Association/Texas 6919 Portwest Drive, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024.