“She was a very special lady and cared about the youth in the area, particularly in Riverside.”

Those were the words used by Frank Gangware in describing longtime Riverside resident Ellen Herda, who passed away on Aug. 25, 2013 at her home.

Gangware’s association with Herda started when both were members of the Riverside Recreation Board, on which Herda served for 16 years. She brought to the board her expertise and organizational skills, and stepped in to serve as acting director in 1999 when the Recreation Department was in a turmoil.

She revived the department and helped it survive, building a foundation to make it a thriving department with quality staff and programs. She gave not only of her time but was generous monetarily, helping fund programs like the Easter Egg Hunt, which was almost canceled due to lack of funding.

Herda was the angel behind that event and many others for almost 10 years. She stepped down from the Recreation Board when her health prevented her from giving of herself as she has so ably done before.

In her professional life, Herda was a teacher at Morton High School, where she had attended school, holding various positions in the physical education department; she was assistant athletic director when she retired in 1997.

Residing in Riverside more than 48 years, Herda was known by her friends and neighbors for her kindness and generosity in many ways. She enjoyed her home, reading, her garden, shopping, traveling, her high school reunion committee and her chance to give back to the village she so loved, without expecting any recognition.

She was quick to laugh and enjoyed watching the neighborhood children grow into adulthood, often being the one to step in to babysit or have a special cookie on hand. She will truly be missed.

Ellen Herda is survived by her brother, Bill (Joan); her nephews, Mark (Kelly) and Paul (Kirsten) Cwinski; her niece Beth (Jeremy) Doetch and seven great nieces and nephews.

Burial will be private but friends and family will gather at St. Mary Church at 126 Herrick Road in Riverside on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. for a memorial Mass. Those who wish may make a donation in Ellen Herda’s name to a favorite charity.

A lesson learned from the life of Ellen Herda is that we all have something of ourselves to give. The residents of Riverside benefited from a lady who gave of herself in a humble manner, asking nothing in return.