Robert Herrmann, resident of Lopez Island Washington, a man of many talents including Broadway performer, perfume columnist, and award-winning Innkeeper died October 1st. Friends and family will remember his boundless energy, caustic wit, generous heart and genuine kindness.
Robert was born in San Francisco, California, in 1954. His family moved to Kentfield, north of San Francisco when he was 7. He and his two older brothers, encouraged by their parents, were active in community theater productions, especially musicals, throughout their young lives. Robert continued this tradition by attending Interlochen, and touring in the National Company of Hair at 17. After time spent in Boston and a harsh Minneapolis winter, (where he told best friend Jane Scott “I hate it. I am the color of aspirin.”) Robert returned to San Francisco and worked in theater until the ’80s. This era’s highlight was performing with DIVINE in “The Heartbreak of Psoriasis.” Other shows followed, including many productions in the San Juans during his 30 years there.
After his love of theater, Robert’s love of jewelry sparked another career in gemstones, particularly tourmalines. He took classes at the American Gem Society and for about 10 years Robert flew to Brazil annually to import stones for jewelers in the Bay Area and beyond.
During this time Robert met Christopher Brandmeire and they were together for 13 years. From Union Street, they moved onto their 36’ sailboat at Pier 39 in San Francisco and Robert made a valiant attempt at sailing. It was the 1980s and after losing so many friends to AIDS, the pair decided it was time to move on. Arriving on Lopez in late 1988 they bought The Inn at Swift’s Bay where they provided such great innkeeping they were constantly winning best of mentions and eventually taught classes for potential B&B owners. Robert was a natural.
When the couple separated in the mid-1990s, the inn was sold and Robert decided to stay on Lopez. In 1996 he met Ron Hall. He also launched Fish Bay Mercantile, a successful gift shop and gallery in Lopez Village. In 2002 he closed the shop, took Barista courses, bought an Espresso machine and opened Caffe La Boheme next door to Holly B’s Bakery. For the next decade or so, this was the stage for Robert’s hospitality mixed with his charm, his caring nature, his quick wit, Lattes, cappuccinos, Biscotti, and his one-of-a-kind snarky humor.
Due to health issues, he sold the Caffe in 2015. He reinvented himself yet again, following another passion, perfume. He quickly became a reviewer for Australian Perfume Junkies and then Cafleurebon where he became a Senior Editor. He regularly reviewed perfumes, moderated fragrance groups and was nominated for international writing awards. He collected his own writings under “The Fragrant Wanderer.” He has over 500,000 followers.
Robert was an avid reader and movie enthusiast. He loved food, especially sushi, pizza and tacos; enjoyed theater, especially musicals; loved travel (Europe, South America, Thailand and USA); perfumes; and life in general.
Robert passed away on Oct. 1, 2019, at Whatcom Hospice House, Bellingham, Washington, after 2 months in Peace Health St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Robert is survived by his loving husband of 23 years, Ron; his brother Ted Herrmann of Louisiana; two nephews and a niece and their families; his best friend Jane Scott of Mill Valley, California; several cousins; and an extraordinary group of friends throughout the world.
“A Fabulous Life” celebration will be held on Aug. 15, 2020, at Lopez Center for Community and the Arts.
In honor of Robert, go to a play, read a book, watch a movie, take a trip, go out to dinner, wear Chanel #5. Enjoy life. Be passionate.