Every minute of making the birthday wish of a little mountain girl come true by delivering the baby sister she wanted, only to later mourn the deaths of both the little girl and her baby sister in a house fire?
Herman has lived a global adventure of a life of service to "many wonderful but often misunderstood people" in remote areas. Now about 80, she lives in a modest home on Kennedy Bridge Road near Burgin.
Herman tends to her dogs, participates in activities at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Harrodsburg and takes care of a home whose walls are covered with paintings and photos of her favorite animal - the wolf.
Her love affair with the animal and the wilderness it inhabits began when, as a child, she read a book about wolves and Indians. She grew up to own and raise wolves.
In case the art and a sign outside the front door that says "Alice's Wolf Den" don't convince you of her love for the animal, perhaps the stuffed body of a beloved 1-year-old wolf named Maku that was her pet will.
Time to write of adventures
Herman plans to write a book about her life.
"I have jotted down a lot of things and kept clippings," Herman says. "I have a lot of memories to go over."
Those memories began in the central Pennsylvania community of West Milton, where she was one of three daughters of an Evangelical United Brethren minister and his wife. Her delivery was a harbinger: She was delivered by a midwife.
After high school, Herman wanted to join the Army, which was engaged at the time in World War II.
"The Hermans came to America in 1749, and a Herman had served in every war starting with the Revolutionary War," she says. "I wanted the family tradition to continue, but my parents had three girls and they didn't want any of us in the military, especially during wartime."
Herman, who eventually served in the Army Nurse Corps during peacetime in the early 1960s, went from the graduating line at her commencement to the line of women at a local factory applying for jobs left vacant by men who had headed off to war.
And factory work was far better than continuing her education.
"Once I graduated high school, I never wanted to see the inside of another school," she says.
As it turned out, though, she saw the insides of many schools, as a student and a teacher, over the next several years. Over a period of more than three decades, she earned her registered nurse status at Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania, her bachelor's degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, master's degree at the University of Kentucky, where she achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and Ph.D. at the London University in England, where she also gained registered nurse status in England and Wales. She taught at Penn State, Berea College, Morehead State University and UK.
Between her stints as a nursing student and teacher, Herman served for 13 years, spanning three decades, for Frontier Nursing Service in Leslie, Clay and Perry counties in Eastern Kentucky. She got to know and love the people.
She also worked for five years, from 1988 to 1993, as a frontier nurse in Alaska, delivering babies, providing medical care and training aides in 28 Eskimo and Indian villages in an area as large as California. She traveled by dog sled - packing 100 pounds of supplies on the sled and "flipping along" with the nearly two dozen huskies pulling the sled for up to 100 miles at a time - and also by boat and bush plane.
Enjoyed time in mountains
It was her time in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky that she considers the most rewarding period of her adventurous career.
"When I decided to become a nurse in the early 1950s, I read a book called 'Nursing on Horseback,'" she says. "I thought, 'If I can ride horseback and, at the same time, pursue the career I want, why work in a hospital?'"
"I was a midwife and delivered more than 1,000 babies," says Herman. "I never lost a mother, and only one baby died during my deliveries, and that's a real source of pride. The baby that died was compromised before I even started the delivery, and she could not be saved. It was sad."
Frontier nursing was a dangerous occupation, made so by risky modes of transportation on treacherous roads.