Herman E. Stein, 91: His service on D-Day mentioned in 'Longest Day'

His life was the stuff of adventure novels.

He patrolled the cliffs on D-Day and held the line on Hill 400 in Germany. He earned a Distinguished Service Cross, a Purple Heart and a mention in Cornelius Ryan's "The Longest Day."

Herman E. Stein of Duluth died June 27 of prostate cancer. He was 91. A memorial service is scheduled for noon Saturday at Lake Berkeley Chapel, Berkeley Lake. Ingram Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Born in Staten Island, N.Y., he was affectionately known as "Bubby." He attended high school in Tarrytown, N.Y., and for a time, studied at New York University. War — and a girl in a red dress — came calling, though, and life soon changed.

Mr. Stein's daughter Deborah Caldwell of Duluth said he was attending a get-together for his sister, Helene, and her future in-laws when Lena walked in. "She had just come in from church. She had black hair and was wearing a red dress. He looked at her, and he just knew," Ms. Caldwell said. A few years later, Lena and Herman — who'd enlisted in the Army — wed.

He soon joined the Army Rangers, which placed him on the cliffs on D-Day. His work, and the work of others on the cliffs, was detailed in the World War II opus "The Longest Day." When Ryan was writing the book, Ms. Caldwell said, he came to the Stein house to interview her father, but neither she nor her siblings knew the nature of her father's service until they were adults.

Her father served across Europe, but his greatest challenge came at Hill 400, a battle assembly area deep in Germany's Hurtgen Forest. Mr. Stein was one of the last men standing at the hill, but with typical modesty, said Ms. Caldwell, her father would only say, "D-Day was a picnic compared to Hill 400." The medals he earned remained for years in their original boxes in a drawer at the family home.

Postwar, Mr. Stein turned to raising a family and running a construction firm, Stein & Co., in New York and Florida. In 2005, he and his bride — whom he called "the Latin from Manhattan" — moved to Georgia to be close to their children. According to his daughter, Mr. Stein stayed fit, and his affinity for fellow vets remained strong. "At ages 62 and 72, he returned to climb the cliffs he'd been on at D-Day," Ms. Caldwell said.

Mr. Stein also took joy in creative partnership with his wife. Mrs. Stein, an artist, drew up patterns that Mr. Stein would cut from metal to form sculptures that now grace the homes and gardens of family and friends.

Former caregiver Linda Bledsoe of Conyers said Mr. Stein "made me laugh every day."

"He never complained and was just wonderful to his wife," she said. "Her eyes lit up, as well, whenever he was in the room."

Of her father, Ms. Caldwell said: "He really was a heck of a guy. He often said, 'If I die tomorrow, I die a happy man. I have no regrets.'"

Survivors also include daughters Francine Root of Fort Pierce, Fla., and Cynthia Sewell of Lawrenceville; a son, Robert Stein of Asheville, N.C.; and a sister, Helene Soltero of Texas.