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Death of a statistician

It’s not often that one of our profession earns an obituary in the New York Times:

Lawrence R. Herkimer, who elevated cheerleading into an aspirational goal for generations of youths and a highly successful business for himself, organizing camps for would-be cheerleaders and selling the clothing and gear they would need, died on Wednesday in Dallas. He was 89. . . . Mr. Herkimer was often called the grandfather of modern cheerleading and Mr. Cheerleader. . . .

One of his notable contributions to cheerleading was the so-called “Herkie jump.” To execute it, swing the right arm upward to begin your leap, and as you depart the ground, your left hand clutches your hip while the left leg is propelled out parallel to the ground and the right leg is drawn back.

But his wife, the former Dorothy Brown, cautioned early on that he would not be able to perform the maneuver indefinitely and persuaded him to start making and selling supplies, among them a 16-pleat twirling cheerleader skirt she designed.

And this:

“I feel we have a recession-proof business,” he said in 1990. “If times get bad, a father would sell the boat before he would tell his daughter she can’t have pompons and her cheerleader sweater.”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot:

At first, he continued to teach physical education and statistics at S.M.U. But he said: “I was making more money in the summertime in camps than I was teaching all year at S.M.U. So I quit teaching and went full time into cheerleading. It grew by leaps and bounds.”


  1. D.O. says:

    French, music, and washing—extra.

  2. Phil says:

    Cheerleading “grew by leaps and bounds.” No doubt.

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