William ("Billy") Brodbeck Herms (1876-1949)
Professor Emeritus and Lieutenant-Colonel William B. Herms was a dynamic leader in every undertaking to which he directed his unbounded energies.
He was an ardent and devoted Scouter. For thirty-seven years he loyally served the Scouting movement as an Executive Board Member (since 1916) and Council President (1926-1949). Through his untiring efforts, thousands of boys enjoyed the character building benefits of Scouting. A lover of the out-of-doors, he helped provide camp facilities that assured every Scout a balanced camping experience.
His long service with the Boy Scouts of America brought him the unique title of Councilor of Boy Scouts of the Western States and Hawaii. Because of his unselfish service to Scouting the local Boy Scouts of America District that includes Berkeley, California, and the scout camp in El Cerrito, California, just north of Berkeley, are named after him. The scout camp, Camp Berkeley, was opened on June 7th, 1930 and was renamed Camp William B. Herms in 1939.
His service to students at the University of California included being an honorary member of the Alpha Chapter and the first National President of the Alpha Kappa Lambda Social Fraternity (1921-1922). The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America recognized the Alpha Phi Omega National Fraternity as the National Honorary Scout Fraternity in 1932 and Professor Herms helped found and became a charter member (1939) of, and faculty advisor (1939-1946) for, the Gamma Gamma Chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega at the Berkeley campus of the university.
He was born September 22nd, 1876 in Portsmouth, Ohio. He received his B.S. degree from the former German Wallace College, now the Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. He earned an M.A. degree from the Ohio State University in 1906 and pursued graduate work at Harvard University in 1907 and 1908. He arrived at Berkeley in 1908. In 1908 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of California at Berkeley. This title was changed in 1912 to Assistant Professor of Parasitology, making him the first person to hold an academic title in the field of Parasitology in the United States. He would leave Berkeley very few times during his tenure, once to study in the South Sea Islands and also to serve his country in World War I and II in the United States Army.
When World War I was imminent, he volunteered his services and was made a Captain and later a Major in the Sanitary Corps. After duty in Texas, he supervised antimalarial mosquito control over a widespread encampment area in tide-water Virginia, with spectacularly successful results. Although over age at the outset of World War II, he was again called to active duty as a Lieutenant-Colonel and supervised the training in Environmental Sanitation for the thousands of prospective army physicians who were indoctrinated at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
He was a popular educator and honored scientist. From 1919 until shortly before retiring in September of 1946, Professor Herms served as the head of the Division of Entomology and Parasitology at the University of California at Berkeley. As a scientist, his colleagues elected him to the presidency of both of the national entomological societies -- the Entomological Society of America and the American Association of Economic Entomologists, a distinction that is shared with only one other person in the first half of the 20th Century.
In 1937 the citizens of Berkeley awarded him the Benjamin Ide Wheeler Medal for distinguished citizenship for his long service on the Berkeley Board of Education and in other civic enterprises.
He died on May 9th, 1949 at the age of 72.
This article was compiled and updated by William C. Wells, Advisor, Gamma Gamma Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega at the University of California at Berkeley, and member of the Boy Scouts of America Herms District Committee. Parts of this article were compiled, updated and quoted from: