Not every community is fortunate enough to have someone like Mariam Herwig, who died last Friday at the age of 91. Known to all as ‘Mim,’ Herwig was a historian, author and poet.
She worked with her late husband Wes to edit and publish more than 40 books on local and Vermont history. As a resident of Randolph Center for 65 years, she was the village’s institutional memory.
Her knowledge of its past ran from the community’s response to momentous events like Abraham Lincoln’s assassination to local stories whose impact rippled no further than the village border.
“She was a meticulous historian,” says writer and historian Howard Coffin, who was a good friend of Herwig’s. “We who write history on the statewide scale can’t do it without local historians, and she really worked at it.”
Herwig was well known through the dozens of articles she wrote for The Herald of Randolph, and for her weekly weather column, which ran for 25 years.
The images she used to describe the weather — for example, "fingers of rain scrubbing" at the snow cover — made it clear how much she loved writing. She started keeping a daily diary in 1929, when she was in first grade.
Herwig didn't like winters, but told VPR in 2007 that in her column she kept her opinions on the weather to herself.
But she had opinions that she didn’t hesitate to express.
A Williamstown native who never lived outside of Vermont, Herwig was up on global issues. While she could have a no-nonsense way of expressing her decidedly liberal views, she was too kind to be anything but unerringly polite.
“She was one of the great citizens I’ve ever known, of Randolph Center, of Randolph, of Vermont and of the world, because she was informed and she spoke her mind,” says Coffin.
Herwig’s views, whether on history or current events, were grounded in a love of nature and a belief in the uniqueness of Vermont.
In a farewell to readers in her final weather column, she wrote:
"May the ever-changing skies and the bounties of nature increase your appreciation of this everchanging corner of the world which is ours."
A memorial service for Mim Herwig will be held on Sunday, June 7 at 1 p.m. at the Randolph Center Church.