May 23, 2021

By Georgia Ackerman

Maya Angelou wrote, “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.’ Kate Herzog did just that.

She could be described in multiple action words. A dynamo. A do-er. Joyous, humorous. Generous. Her enthusiasm–-infectious. I met her for the first time on a kayak camping trip in 2011. Could I keep up with sprightly Katie Herzog? Certainly not. On the go! A runner, paddler, hiker–-the list goes on. I’d also add, she had the snappiest shoe collection of any outdoorsy gal I know.

Riverfront Park

Apalachicola Riverkeeper hosted a morning gathering on Sunday, May 23 at River Front Park in Apalachicola to dedicate a new park bench in memory of long-time volunteer Katie Herzog of Carrabelle. Katie passed away in February 2020 after a sudden illness. Her legacy of putting care into action continues to inspire those that knew Katie.

The board and staff of Apalachicola Riverkeeper encourage you to sit at “Katie’s bench” overlooking the Apalachicola River and be in awe of this dynamic river and bay system and work to protect it, like Katie did.

Dodie Alber reading bench inscription
Tom Herzog at Katie Herzog bench dedication

At the morning gathering, Tom Herzog also announced the establishment of the Katie Herzog Apalachicola Riverkeeper Memorial Scholarship. An annual scholarship award of $2,000 for a student graduating from Franklin County Schools who plans on attending a two- or four-year college or university will begin in Fall 2021. The scholarship will be administered by Apalachicola Riverkeeper.

Tom Herzog joined Apalachicola Riverkeeper board members, staff and friends to commemorate the bench and share lighthearted stories of memorable times with Katie, who was known for her boundless energy. The Herzogs, both retired from the Wisconsin school system, moved to Carrabelle in 2005 when they began volunteering at Apalachicola Riverkeeper.

Katie worked tirelessly on the Apalachicola Blueway map project and the national scenic trail initiative along with office bookkeeping and other programs. Tom Herzog, a long-time Riverkeeper volunteer served on the board for multiple years, including as board president from 2013-2014.

And, if you ever attended a Riverkeeper fundraising event, odds are you were greeted by Katie’s bright, beaming smile while she asked what drink you were having. Tom and Katie dutifully bartended, bringing good cheer with a dash of hilarity to the volunteer role. Thank you to Tom and Katie for reminding us all to laugh and love each other. Thank you for putting your care into action in protecting our region’s precious, natural resources–especially our Apalachicola River and Bay.

Next time you’re at Riverfront Park, please stop at “the Katie bench” and gaze out at the mighty Apalachicola River as it heads onward to the Gulf. Of course, Katie would unlikely have lingered very long. She was on the go out doing good work in the community.

May we all honor Katie’s legacy of putting care into action by our continued work to protect this magnificent slice of Earth, the Apalachicola River Basin.

Photo album of gathering at Riverfront Park

Special, big thanks to board member Dr. Lynn Wilder for her role in the memorial bench process. Photos by Lynn Wilder and Georgia Ackerman

Tom Herzog, Susan Macken, Charley Kienzle, Lynn Wilder
Tom Herzog, Mary Balthrop, Lynn Wilder
Tom, Charley, Susan, Georgia

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