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Car Wash Hall of Fame Honoree Herm Deal passes away

Aug 28, 2018
Herman Alton  eal, 94, a longtime resident of Ann Arbor, passed away on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

He was born on October 8, 1923 in Statesboro, Georgia, the son of John and Mabel (Donaldson)Deal. Herman grew up on the family farm in Bulloch County, Georgia, raising chickens, peanuts and tobacco and working hard.

After graduating from South Georgia Teacher's High School in 1941, he enrolled in Georgia Military Academy Junior College in Atlanta. After Pearl Harbor, he completed his school year and then went to work in the shipyards building ships for the Navy. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the age of 18 and was trained as a flight engineer.

During his training, he was sent to Willow Run in Ypsilanti, Michigan to train on the B-24 bomber and where he met his future wife, Helen Ellis, who worked at the bomber plant as a 'Rosie the Riveter' and later as flight deck inspector for the B-24.

During his active duty in World War II as a member of the 15th Air Force, 450th Bomb Group, 722nd Squadron, he was shot down on a bombing mission over Toulon, France, captured and imprisoned at Stalag XVII B near Krems, Austria. He was liberated by the Third Armored Division in May 1945 after nearly 4 months of forced marching through Austria. Seventy years later he was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart at a special ceremony at Yankee Air Museum.

After discharge from the Army, he managed the Coca Cola bottling plant while attending Georgia Southern University in Statesboro. He moved to Michigan and married Helen Ellis on May 6, 1950. He worked for the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor from 1950 to 1964, starting as a door-to-door salesman and becoming regional sales manager.

In 1964, he bought Huron Valley Sales, a water- heating equipment distributor company, from Harlan Bird, who gradually retired from the business. Huron Valley Sales thrived and eventually became a leader in the car wash industry, pioneering such applications as ice prevention and snow melting systems, radiant floor heat, recycling water and reverse osmosis.

Herman served on the board of the International Car Wash Association, and in 1995, was inducted into the International Car Wash Hall of Fame. Herman never retired from work, but continued to be involved with the business and the industry. Herman and Helen lived in Ann Arbor since 1950, where they raised their eight children.

Herman was an active member of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor since 1960. He was involved with Junior Achievement and the Boy Scouts while his six sons were active in those organizations. He loved to go fishing and organized an annual fishing trip with friends, family and business associates for more than 30 years. He loved to garden and always planted a big vegetable garden and lots of flowers. He loved traveling with his wife and friends the Too Too Travel Troupe took many trips together. They were also part of the Forty Diners for 41 years.

Most of all, he loved and devoted himself to his family. His wife of 62 years preceded him in death in 2012. He is survived by his eight children: Howard (Susan) Deal; Mitzi Espinosa; Jeffrey (Diana) Deal; James Deal; Alan (Suzanne) Deal; Douglas (Alona) Deal; Alice (Dominic) Ahearn; Robert Deal; 24 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by two sisters, Dorothy Greene of Miami Florida, Martha Horne of Savannah, Georgia, and one brother, Ralph Deal of Statesboro. He was preceded in death by his brother, Morgan Deal and his grandson, James Ahearn.

A celebration of his life will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 1500 Scio Church Rd., Ann Arbor, MI on Saturday, September 1st at 1 p.m., with a reception following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be made to the Yankee Air Museum and the Larry Harrell Scholarship Memorial Fund of the International Car Wash Association.

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