Richard E. Herrin was born in West Liberty, IL to Florence Ellen (Heckler) and Homer Ralph Herrin on April 6, 1933. Being the son of a Methodist minister, Rich’s family lived in a number of small towns in southeastern Illinois, Flat Rock, Friendsville, Cisne, and Bridgeport. Rich had one sibling, his beloved big brother, Ron, whom he idolized and adored. They grew up in a home whose activities mostly involved church and basketball. Besides their families, basketball was the center of both Rich and Ron’s lives until the end.
On December 21, 1957, Rich wed Martha Sue Cooksey of Marion, IL whom he met accidentally at an SIU football game in the fall of 1956. From this union, four wonderful children were born, Dr. Rodney Jay Herrin of Springfield, IL, Randal Todd Herrin (David Elliott) of Greenfield, WI, Kyle Clifton Herrin (Tina) of Carterville, IL and Kristy Lynn Allardyce (Shawn) of Carterville, IL. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, Britton Kyle Herrin, Madison Elizabeth Allardyce, Reese Kylee Herrin, Jake Randal Herrin, Kate Kristin Herrin, Rachel Ann Herrin, McKenzie Pfister (Matt), Mallory Clark (Kyle Brown), Hunter Clark (Rachel) and three great grandchildren, Drew, Gage, and Parker. Other survivors include sisters-in-law Jennie Lee Zilmer of Bloomington, IL, Linda Lou Richey of Dallas, TX and Mary Lou Herrin of Benton, IL and brother-in-law Stephen Benjamin Cooksey of Houston, TX. Rich also left behind many beloved nieces, nephews, friends and former players as well as his best buddy, Dolly. Rich was preceeded in death by his parents, brother Ron, mother and father-in-law, Elizabeth and Ben Cooksey, and brothers-in-law Glen Zilmer and Jack Richey, niece Tara (Zilmer) Kaiser and great nephew, Cameron Herrin Vennard.
Rich attended several grade schools and graduated in 1951 from Bridgeport High School and from McKendree University in Lebanon, IL in 1956. While at McKendree he earned 11 varsity letters in basketball, track, golf and baseball. He received his Master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the summer of 1962.
Rich’s career began in the small community of Okawville, IL in the fall of 1956. He taught and coached the “Rockets” for four years, where he had great success with a team of talented and dedicated young men. Rich, Sue and Rodney moved to Benton, IL in the summer of 1960. This began a 25-year span of exciting and successful teaching and coaching, compiling an astonishing record number of wins that led to 21 regional tournament wins and 5 trips to the state tournament. In 1982, the Benton High School gymnasium was named the Rich Herrin Gymnasium. Rich began his college coaching career at SIU in 1985 leading the Salukis for 13 years. During this time, he was named the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 1990. He also led the Salukis to the first and only “3-peat” by winning the MVC Tournament three times in a row, which allowed the Salukis to play in the NCAA tournament three times in 1993, 1994 and 1995. In 2002, Rich began coaching for the Marion Wildcats for five years. Rich finalized his 52 year coaching career at Morthland College in West Frankfort, IL, coaching five more years, where he won the Christian College National Invitational Tournament Championship in 2016. By the end of his career, Rich had amassed an amazing total of 981 victories. Many of his players earned college scholarships and a numerous number of his players became basketball coaches. Several of his players went on to play in the NBA. Besides his loving family, the impact he had on so many young lives is one of Rich’s greatest legacies.
Rich received many honors during his illustrious career. He was honored to be inducted into several hall of fames; McKendree University, SIU, Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, Missouri Valley Conference, and the Southern Illinois Coaches Hall of Fame.
A private family service will be held at Morton & Johnston Funeral Home in Benton, IL on Wednesday, December 30th. Immediately following at 1:00 pm, a graveside service will be held at Masonic and Odd Fellows Cemetery in Benton, IL for those who wish to attend. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to The Ron Herrin and Homer R. Herrin Memorial Scholarship. Memorials can be mailed to McKendree University, Attn: Office of Development, Alumni and Parent Relations, 701 College Road, Lebanon, IL 62254, Re: Ron Herrin and Homer R. Herrin Memorial Scholarship Fund or to Hospice of Southern Illinois, Inc. 204 Halfway Road, Marion, IL 62959.
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The Ron Herrin and Homer R. Herrin Memorial Scholarship Fund
Attn: Office of Development, Alumni and Parent Relations, 701 College Road, Lebanon IL 62254
Hospice of Southern Illinois, Inc.
204 Halfway Road, Marion IL 62959