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Whether they are giving back to agriculture students at Auburn University or helping refugees from a war-torn country, Phil and Frances Herron clearly believe in the human touch.

Helping people has always come naturally to the couple. In 1999, as the Kosovo War and ethnic violence raged in eastern Europe, a family of refugees from Kosovo arrived in Marietta, Georgia, not knowing anyone or speaking English.

After getting connected through their church, the Herrons – both recently retired – poured their hearts into the Hajdini family, teaching them English, tutoring the three children, getting the kids set up in school, and helping the father secure work.

Twenty-five years later, the Herrons and the Hajdinis have become like family to each other. The Hajdinis stayed in Georgia, set up a successful painting business, and have become living proof of the American dream.

“We were happy to be there and help them,” Phil said. “They are good people.”

That example highlights the type of people the Herrons are, too. The kindness they showed to the Hajdini family is also seen in how they give back to college students.

Phil is a 1964 graduate from the College of Agriculture in entomology. Growing up on his family farm, he was always interested in insects and how they affected the crops. Although he started college at Jacksonville State, he transferred to Auburn and continued his studies in entomology, working with cotton farmers during the summers to combat boll weevils and other pests.

“I really enjoyed the classes and learning about different areas of agriculture and enjoyed the spirit of Auburn,” Phil said. “For that reason, I’m glad that we could give back when Auburn has given me so much.”

That giving spirit led the Herrons to create a gift in their wills in support of entomology and plant pathology graduate students at Auburn University.

“When we were in college, we didn’t get a lot of help financially,” he said. “Because of that, we were very interested in helping others get their education and gain something.”

Although obligations prevented him from pursuing a master’s degree after graduating from Auburn, Phil began his career as a biology teacher in Georgia before being recruited to work at Overnite Transportation, where he ultimately retired in 1999.

He ended up meeting Frances thanks in part to the King – Elvis Presley. Frances was at an Elvis concert, where she met a work friend of Phil’s who connected the two. They have been together ever since and married for 49 years.

A graduate and financial supporter of Georgia College & State University, Frances spent 32 years as a teacher in Georgia, mostly as a second-grade teacher in Marietta.

The couple are also avid travelers, having visited 114 countries and all the continents, including the Galapagos Islands – a favorite of Phil’s. After moving to Rome, Georgia, they volunteered for many years at assisted living facilities, where they would host cooking shows for the residents and regale them with videos from their travels.

But perhaps the Herrons’ defining trait is their generosity – to Kosovar refugees and to the next generation of college students.

For more information about making a planned gift, contact or 334-844-7375.