While in high school in Brooklyn, Robert Herman was a track star who distinguished himself with records and awards in almost every race, according to his family.
He later took that focus into a long career as an economics and finance professor at Nassau Community College while keeping a steady flow of chicken Parmesan emerging from the family kitchen in East Northport.
Herman died of a sudden brain stem bleed at Huntington Hospital Friday. He was 69.
Herman was born in 1940 and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, said his younger brother Alan Herman, a sports agent from Jericho.
He attended Midwood High School, where he starred on the track team. "No one could keep up with him," Alan Herman said.
Later, he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from City College and later an MBA, and he received his doctorate in economics from New York University in 1980.
While he was studying for his master's degree, he began teaching at Nassau Community College in 1965 and never left, spending nearly 45 years there.
"He is a real foundation to our department here," said professor Roberta Schroder, chairwoman of the department of economics and finance.
Herman once held the department chair and also received the chancellor's award for excellence in teaching, his brother said.
"He liked the interaction with his students. He felt it kept him young," Alan Herman said. "He was always a helping person. He enjoyed teaching because that enabled people to understand what he was passionate about."
Herman handled the landscaping and gardening on the family's one-acre grounds, and he loved romping with his dog, Reggie.
As his son Andrew recalled in an e-mail, he reigned in the family kitchen, whipping together dinner almost nightly.
"My favorite memory of him is how he cooked the entire family dinner every night, but never used a recipe, even for his famous dishes of chicken Parmesan and spaghetti and meatballs," Andrew Herman said. "He taught me how to cook, and now I cook his specialties just like him, without recipes."
In addition to his brother and son, Herman is survived by his wife Joan, of East Northport, and twin daughters Elizabeth and Sara of Manhattan.