A scientist's practical instincts informed long lasting, legacy gift

  • Matt Hackworth
  • Apr 26, 2021

Recently retired in 1988, David Herting and his late wife, Martha, fell into a routine on Mondays.

"I'd drop her off to quilt at the church and then I'd go play bridge," he remembers. "I'm not a great bridge player but it challenged me."

Sharing a ride is only the beginning of the practical sensibility Herting, a retired biochemist, brings to life. He's hoping a statue of a fox will be enough to drive away the groundhogs who steal his garden vegetables, for example.

Now 92, David's research on nutrition – for humans and animals – has only partially informed his support for Lutheran World Relief. A passion for service is a cornerstone of his faith.

"I don't claim I'm generous," he says modestly. "I just accept what Jesus has said. I feel Jesus would want me to treat the least of these as though they were he. I'm only returning to him what he has first given me. He has blessed me my whole life."

It has been a life filled with family and service. The Hertings moved to Johnson City, Tenn. as part of a job transfer from Rochester, N.Y., but stayed in the Smoky Mountain community into retirement.

Retirement, in their case, meant more time to serve: in local efforts to help the homeless and the hungry and, of course, driving lovingly-crafted quilts contributed by Our Saviour Lutheran to the Lutheran World Relief warehouse in New Windsor, Md.

The focus on serving others in practical ways informed the Hertings' estate planning. The couple chose to name Lutheran World Relief in their will, extending many years of generous giving well beyond their lives.

"I'm giving my gift because the poor will always be with us," David said. "That's why I want it to be a gift without any strings attached, so it can be used however is needed at that moment. I trust Lutheran World Relief to make good decisions."

Of his work, Herting said he was happiest as a research scientist in the lab at the workbench or among the animals in the lab's barn. The hands-on practicality of his career matches what he describes as serving the most forsaken among the world's poor, sustainably.

"Lutheran World Relief teaches people how to help themselves," is how Herting describes it.

David and Martha met at a Lutheran Student Association meeting as undergraduate students in 1949. They were married for 65 years until Martha's death in 2017.

Even while raising multiple children, the couple always made giving to others a priority, splitting their donations among local and global charities.

"It is a way to return to the Lord the blessings we've been given," he said. "The Lord has blessed every one of us.

“I’m 92- and I've forgotten the unimportant stuff," he added. "The important stuff is knowing what Jesus Christ has done for me. That's the important stuff."

Matt Hackworth, Apr 26, 2021 email