(UPDATE: A public memorial is planned at on Sunday at 3 p.m., followed by a celebration of his life at the swim school at 5 p.m. Both events are public and an RSVP is requested to 818-508-1155.)
Jim Herrick, who taught literally thousands of children how to swim over the past 40 years, died Wednesday. He was 66.
Herrick was a beloved swimming instructor who taught classes in Sherman Oaks and Valley Village. He lived in the area much of his life.
“He was a big, gentle teddy bear, he had a very soothing way with people and was very calming,” said Patty Romero, a manager of his swim school who worked with him for the past 16 years. “He was like a father to me and my best friend; he was very special.”
From infants to adults with a fear of water, Herrick taught his students to learn how to swim.
Herrick was in remission from a short bout with cancer, but he had problems with his lungs and died from complications of the cancer.
Public relations specialist Jack McGrath remembered Herrick from North Hollywood High School. McGrath recalled he was a competitive swimmer who helped train the children of Neil Sedaka and John Wayne, the grandchildren of Frank Sinatra as well as Annette Funicello, the son of Wendy Greuel and many others.
It was not about the celebrities he helped, but the way he went about helping people, Romero said. He never promoted or discussed any of his famous clients.
McGrath was a member of the Caballeros club with Herrick. McGrath said, “Thousands and thousands of people are indebted to him for teaching their kids how to swim. Nobody had a longer record in the swimming profession in the San Fernando Valley."
Families made videos of their children swimming to cheer him when he was hospitalized (see the photos in the gallery above.) There is also a video featuring Herrick, and an interview he gave to Patch.
A memorial is planned for Sunday, Sept. 25 at 11 a.m. at a location yet to be determined. Herrick's son Dylan is making the arrangements. Stay tuned to Patch for further details.