Richard Hermann loved being a baker.
So even long past retirement age for most people, Hermann could be found working long hours, seven days a week at Hermann’s Bakery, the shop he owned and operated for decades on Main Street in downtown Royal Oak, after inheriting it from his father.
Hermann died early Monday of complications of cardiac arrest at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, his family said. He was 79.
“He was the primary baker and was the guy who had everything in his head,” his son Dan Hermann told the Free Press. “He did all the prep work and put more hours in one day in his 70s than most people put in two.”
The shop had been RIchard Hermann’s life since he was a child when he would sneak out of his family’s home and show up to help his dad at the family-owned bakery.
Hermann talked about those early years on the bakery’s website.
“When I was very young, I used to get up before dawn and go to the bakery to be with dad, who was working 6 days a week,” Hermann recalled.
Hermann said his parents put a latch on his door to deter him from leaving the house.
“I couldn’t reach the latch but I would push open the hook with a stick. I used to sneak out and go. Dad would call Mom and say, ‘He’s down here.’”
George Hermann took over what was then Dondero’s Bakery in the early 1940s from the previous owner.
“Dad and I learned on the job,” Richard Hermann was quoted on the bakery website as saying. “We never went to baking school.”
“But for dad, running the business was to keep a roof over his head. I do half as much variety as he did. With me, I love being there, making the stuff and selling it.”
Except for a stint in the Navy, Hermann worked at the bakery since he was 13.
Dan Hermann and his brother Eric spent a lot of their childhoods in the bakery.
“Eric and I both grew up there,” Dan Hermann said. “We were there when we were kids. We helped on holidays and when he had a lot going on. We would put on gloves and scoop cookie dough and my dad would say, ‘And here’s a vat of it.'”
Richard Hermann was born and raised in Royal Oak, lived in Madison Heights for a while before moving back to Royal Oak about a dozen years ago.
Dan Hermann said his father provided a necessity.
“Ingredients go in, food comes out,” Dan said. “He was a straightforward person.”
When the bakery building was inducted in to the Royal Oak historical society, Dan said his father didn’t go because he had to work.
“He was a good man, active in the community and treated everyone equally,” said Eric Hermann.
Lori Staniski, bakery assistant and cake decorator, worked side-by-side with Hermann for 33 years.
“It was great working with him. I started when I was young and learned a lot of things,” Staniski said. “We got along well, he had some great stories and always had a joke.”
Tim Selewski, the brewery’s general manager, said: “He was a wonderful guy and such an important part of this community. Richard was kind of a throwback guy. He was the perfect example of the small businessman as part of the community he worked in.”
Hermann is survived by his two sons, two brothers and a sister, daughter-in-law Lauren, seven grandchildren and Pam Stodola, his companion of 13 years.
Visitation will be Wednesday 5-8 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. Friday funeral at Wm. Sullivan and Son Funeral Home, 705 W. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak. Burial will follow at Roseland Park Cemetery. Memorial contributions to Royal Oak Historical Society are appreciated.
On Monday family members were calling customers who had pending orders telling them they would not be fulfilled.
The bakery, according to the family, will be closed for the foreseeable future.
Contact Susan Selasky at 313-222-6872 or [email protected] Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.
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