Big Bear News – Big Bear Lake, CA – Elected in 1994 and serving as the City’s tenth mayor from 1994 – 1998, Neal Hertzman, passed away Monday at the age of 92. He was heavily involved in the community away from the Dais, helping to organize Old Miners Days, serving on the Senior Center Board of Directors and serving in the Kiwanis Club of Big Bear Valley.
A mechanical engineer by trade, Hertzmann worked on several of the Falcon Missiles for Hughes Aircraft as well as the lunar unmanned soft landing spacecraft development that preceded the Apollo manned landings. Despite a successful career in engineering, Hertzmann always felt a call to serve his community. He served on the Palos Verdes Board of Education for eight years in the 1980s including twice serving as its president.
“Neal Hertzman loved Big Bear and the people of our Valley,” said Current Mayor Rick Herrick. “He taught me the art of patience and the ability to listen for inspiring ideas no matter where they sprang from. I will miss him, and more importantly, we will miss him. Neal, thank you for making our home in the sky a better place.”
Moving to Big Bear Lake to retire in 1988, Hertzmann was appointed to the Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power Board by 1993 and won election to the City Council in November of 1994. Immediately he was appointed by his colleagues as mayor, an honor that would be repeated for his next three years of service. In the 20-year anniversary and First 20 Years of Big Bear Lake publication, Hertzmann recalled the difficulty of his first council meeting as they were confronted with an appeal to a Planning Commission decision and, later that night, the departure of the City Manager.
“We had a good, hard-working council that always got along and treated each other with respect,” Hertzmann said in his autobiography in the publication. “Probably of most importance, the staff was improved tremendously through development and training of existing personnel or by hiring experienced new people. It is clear to me that the City is in much better shape now than it was when I joined the Council. I can only hope that this progress is continued for many years to come.”
Hertzmann served on a number of different boards and committees including four years on the Mountain Area Regional Transit Authority (two years as chair); Director of SANBAG (now SBCTA) for four years; Four years as the City’s representative on the League of California Cities, including one year as the Vice President of the Desert-Mountain Division; and more.
After leaving the council, Hertzmann didn’t slow down, being reappointed to the DWP board, serving as Vice-Chairman of the Discovery Center Gala 2000, serving as Vice President of the Old Miners’ Association and as Chairman of the Board of the Silent Valley RV Park.
Hertzman no doubt left a lasting positive impact on the Big Bear Valley and will be sorely missed.