Herschel J. Underwood

Monday, April 27, 2015
Herschel J. Underwood

Herschel J. Underwood, November 6, 1919 to April 22, 2015, was born in Piggott, Ark., the son of Jimmy and Ethel (Cox) Underwood. Mr. Underwood joined the Civilian Conservation Corps after graduation from Piggott High School in 1939, and then joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. He served in England, Italy and France during and immediately after World War II.

After leaving the service in 1946, he moved to Detroit, where he worked one day in an auto factory, then took a job as a switchman for the New York Central Railroad, later working for Penn Central, Conrail and Amtrak.

He married Mary Elizabeth (Polly) Traughber on Oct. 23, 1948, in Detroit. The two moved to a home on Park Court, in Madison Heights, in 1955, where they raised eight children. He took great pride in his garden there, which included sweet corn, beans, tomatoes, a grape arbor and half a dozen fruit trees.

He retired from the railroad in 1982, and built a home on Beal Road, in Aurora, Ky., near Jonathan Creek. He enjoyed walking the nature trail he established through his Kentucky woods, where he maintained a moss garden, naturalized spring bulbs and species trees. An avid bird-watcher, he kept the feeders near his dining room window filled with seed. He especially enjoyed the song of the mocking bird that reminded him of his boyhood in Piggott. Gypsy, a faithful border collie, was his constant companion.

He and Polly returned to Michigan in 2010, and they enjoyed life at the Village of East Harbor, in New Baltimore.

He was a member of the St. Mary Queen of Creation Catholic Church in New Baltimore, and a longtime member of St. Henry Catholic Church in Aurora, Ky., where he helped plan the cemetery and purchased the first two lots. He was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus and maintained his membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the United Transportation Union.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Elizabeth (Traughber) Underwood; his children, Donna (William) Remer of Armada, Mich., James Herschel (Elisabeth) Underwood of Salem, Ore., Karen (Luca) Miceli of Shelby Township, Mich., Mary (David) Faley of Marysville, Mich., Paul Underwood of Portland, Ore., Philip (Jeanne) Underwood of Portland, Ore. and Patrick (Sheila) Underwood of Worthville, Ky. He was predeceased by a son, John Wiley Underwood, in 1974.

He is also survived by his grandchildren, John Abernathy of Pittsburgh, Penn., Margaret Farenger of Chesterfield Township, Mich., Mark (Stacey) Abernathy of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Ellen (Nathan) James of San Antonio, Tex., Lauren Underwood of Brooklyn, N.Y., Irene Underwood of Eugene, Ore., Adele Underwood of Salem, Ore., Ann Miceli of Erbil, Kurdistan, Joseph (Maria) Miceli of Rochester, Mich., Ross (Heather) Faley of Tupac, Ariz., Eve Faley of San Dimas, Calif., Sharon (Jarvis) Harvey of Van Nuys, Calif., Ryan Faley of Van Nuys, Calif., Levi Underwood of Seattle, Wash. and Logan Underwood of Worthville, Ky.

Great-grandchildren are, Dylan Farenger of Portland, Ore., Daniel Wood of Chesterfield Township, Mich., James Thomas and Ella Abernathy of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Gabriella, Aidan and Christopher Miceli of Rochester, Mich., Alexis Faley of Port Huron, Mich., Luke and Rex Faley of Tupac, Ariz. and Dallas, Riley and Grayson Harvey of Van Nuys, Calif.

He is survived by his brother, Larry Underwood of Derby Kan., and his sisters, Jan Lea Mann of Piggott and Betty Cash of Panama City Beach, Fla. He was predeceased by his brothers, Jimmy Gene Underwood in 1934, Leon Underwood in 2008, Ethridge Underwood in 2013, Charles Underwood in 2015 and Gerald Underwood in 2015 and by his sister, Mary Schnaak, in 2013.

Arrangements were made by the Gendernalik Funeral Home in New Baltimore, Mich., and by Colliers Funeral Home in Benton, Ky. Burial was in St. Henry's Cemetery, Aurora, Ky. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Mary Queen of Creation Catholic Church in New Baltimore, Mich., or St. Henry Catholic Church in Aurora, Ky.