To know him was to love him and for those who didn't know optometrist Dr. Herman H. Ginger, who was also a justice of the peace for Jefferson County's District 6 since 2002, they missed knowing a man who believed in strong moral character who would love you unconditionally.
To know him was to love him and for those who didn’t know optometrist Dr. Herman H. Ginger, who was also a justice of the peace for Jefferson County's District 6 since 2002, they missed knowing a man who believed in strong moral character who would love you unconditionally.
“He made everyone feel special,” said his only child, daughter Amanda Ginger.
After a making a full recovery from heart surgery last September and losing 75-pounds, a healthy Ginger was exposed to COVID-19 and had been hospitalized since early July. On Friday, Ginger lost his fight to COVID-19 according to his daughter but even in suffering, he still stayed true to who he was.
“Some of the nurses who were in the ICU were patients of my daddy and even if they weren’t, they fell in love with him there,” said Amanda, who said her dad never met a stranger. “He wanted to do a proxy vote over the phone but the judge said he couldn’t do that. Even when daddy was obviously sick, he was still thinking of everybody else.”
Born and raised in Pine Bluff, Amber said her daddy loved Pine Bluff with all his heart and dedicated his life to serve his community.
“When people would run down Pine Bluff, he would always tell them the wonderful assets of Pine Bluff and made sure they understood the benefits of living here,” she said.
Amanda said her father was deeply rooted in his faith and believed in eternal joy.
“He always said if you want to know true joy, you should put Jesus first, others second and yourself last,” said Amanda. “The order of those spell joy.”
His patients knew him as family as he treated all as such.
Reviews of his practice show a five star rating with comments left by patients such as Jessica Sanders who said visiting Dr, Ginger was like visiting an old friend or Lindsey Morgan who said she has been a patient of his since she was little.
“He is about the most sweetest man I have met and does very well when he's examining your eyes,” said Morgan in her review.
“Patients would come in for their annual exam and leave with a smile on their face,” said Amanda as she spoke about Ginger who was the past president of the AR Optometric Association.
Known for whistling while he walked down the hallway in between patients and doing a little shuffle dance for good measure, Amanda said her dad sat, talked, counseled, advised, and listened to his patients.
Ginger opened his practice July 13, 1972. At the age of 76 Ginger completed the curriculum to become a certified to perform laser surgery. He received the Arkansas Optometric Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and the American Optometric Association's President's Award for Distinguished Service to Optometry.
Education and knowledge was important to Ginger. From an early age he was described as a renaissance man. According to Amber He played 10 different musical instruments and had a beautiful singing voice.
He was a private pilot who soloed on the 80th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight and built his own airplanes. He rebuilt tractors and loved working on his model A car and model T trucks. He was an amateur blacksmith who built his own forge and power hammer. He was also a machinist that even milled some screws and nuts from solid blocks of metal because they weren’t available anymore for his project. He made a batch of muscadine wine. He created a 1/8 scale of the Cotton Belt 819 steam locomotive.
He married the love of his life Suzanne on November 27, 1964. As a devoted husband and father, Amanda described her dad as loving and caring with a stern but fair upbringing.
“I knew what the rules were and not to break them,” said Amanda. “He was a firm believer in teaching me lessons that would help me later in life. He was all business most of the time, but when he got a twinkle in his eye, he was about to cut up and make us laugh.”
Amanda said her dad was quick with a smile, joke, hug, prayer, word of advice, or anything else anyone needed. He touched so many lives and loved everyone.
The last time Amanda and her mom saw Ginger was the day he was transported by ambulance to the hospital after complications due to COVID-19. While hospitalized Amber said they were able to relay messages to him through the nurses.
“The nurse took her phone in whenever they knew the time was very near to take him off the ventilator to let him go peacefully,” said Amanda. “Mom and I said our goodbyes to him over the phone. He was not lucid and he was nonresponsive when we said our goodbyes but we wanted to say them because we know he heard us.”
Leaving to cherish his memory is his granddaughter Maribeth Howerton, who shared a special bond with her grandfather. A wonderful and jovial man, Ginger has left a lasting impression of eternal joy.
“My daddy was larger than life. He was a man of integrity and a true Southern gentleman,” said Amanda. “He was my daddy first and foremost, but he was my best friend when I grew up. I will miss our talks and singing together to his favorite songs.”