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RIP, Hershel Bloom Of White Bird Clinic Fame

Hershel Bloom in Washington, D.C.
Hershel Bloom in Washington, D.C.

Longtime White Bird Clinic crisis worker and case manager Hershel D. Bloom died in New Philadelphia, Ohio, Jan. 25 at the age of 66. He had moved from Eugene back home to Ohio a few years ago to be closer to family when his health began to fail. 

“Hershel was a remarkable person, and probably the most unique individual I have ever known,” says Chuck Gerard, clinic coordinator at White Bird. Gerard says Bloom had a “special ability to connect with other folks without judgment,” and he “became a model for what was possible.”

Gerard says Bloom “was an amazing artist and could create a picture using both hands at once, starting at the edges and working his way to the center.” Bloom was also a singer, composer and performer and was a regular at the Willamette Valley Music Fest (formerly Folk Festival) and other venues.

“Bloom is no longer a resident of the Eugene community or working as a counselor,” Kyle Valentini wrote in 2012 in the Tuscarawas Bargain Hunter, a small-town Ohio newspaper. “He now resides at Uhrichsville in a tiny one-bedroom apartment … one thing that hasn’t changed is his love of art and poetry. The walls of his apartment are covered in his own original artwork, poetry and prose. Each picture tells the story of a time and place and Bloom remembers them all just like it was yesterday.”

In addition to his 30 years at White Bird, Bloom also was a cook at Lenny’s Nosh Bar on 13th Avenue, which was torn down years ago to make room for a Sacred Heart Medial Center expansion. In his spare time, Bloom also advocated and demonstrated for homeless people and other social issues, and even traveled to a protest in Washington, D.C., says his longtime friend and former roommate Robert Dritz. 

An obituary for Bloom can be found on the Geib Funeral Home website. One condolence from Scott Bloom reads, “I am lighting a candle for all your wonderful stories, Uncle Hersh. You will be missed. You helped many unfortunate people in your life. You were such a giving soul. Rest in peace.”

He is survived by two brothers and his wife, Linda. A video of him singing about the many changes in downtown Eugene and the campus area over the years can be found on our blog and on YouTube.