June 4, 1934 - December 4, 2021
To earn a nickname like "Rocko," you've gotta be an incredibly solid guy who can't be easily pushed around, cracked open, tossed aside or overlooked.
You've gotta be a guy just like Stuart "Rocko" Herzog, who strode through his eight-plus decades like a real-life Paul Bunyan…without need of either axe or blue ox.
Rocko was born June 4, 1934, in Utica, NY, where he spent his childhood. His father, Jonas Glazer Herzog, was an immigrant from Austria, and his mother, Lena Miriam Herzog (nee Marens), was born in Ukraine.
At the Utica Free Academy, he was president of that high school's Debate, Classical, and Press clubs; treasurer of the Science club; a member of the Cercle Francais French group; a Punchinello Players participant; and an Honors Society inductee, all while serving as student council Parliamentarian. His graduation yearbook described Rocko as "A youth of prospects wide and great, whose judgements always carry weight."
By the '50s, Rocko was heading off to Cornell University with a fistful of scholarships including a Regents, one from the Naval ROTC, and yet another from the Elks National Foundation. At Cornell, he delved into the Arts and Sciences curriculum, joined the Eagle and Anchors Society, and spent fraternity time with beta sigma rho. By his 1956 graduation he was storming into his future career of helping others, exemplified by a key role in the school's Orientation Executive Committee, which gives new Cornell arrivals the same opportunities he himself enjoyed.
He spent many of his post-grad years at the Naval ROTC's Maritime College - part of the State University of New York system - and then, as a newly-commissioned Ensign, on board the USS Waller (DDE-466), making numerous deployments throughout the North Atlantic. He was Honorably discharged in September 1959.
Then Rocko was off to law school, sticking with the Cornell brand to earn his Juris Doctor in 1962. Settling soon thereafter in Tucson, he passed his Arizona bar exams the very next year and set himself up in private practice. It didn't take long to make his name in the city's legal circles. Most startup lawyers would be happy to win a mere majority of their cases, which he was certainly managing to outdo. But when the other side would fight back, and appeal a loss to a higher court, Rocko developed a reputation as an unusually formidable appeals foe, usually to protect his fellow Tucsonans from powerful business interests, and winning case after case.
In 1968, he won an appeal that saved new Tucson homeowners from costly behind-the-scenes manipulations in the terms of their purchase. The next year, he won an appeal on behalf of a homeowner who bought a Tucson property bearing a laundry list of significant unreported defects, and another for the estate of a homeowner facing huge city tax assessments that the mortgage company had somehow failed to properly document.
He won a newsworthy court fight in 1973 for a welder working for a Tucson copper company, who was offered a better-paying management job in its South American facility, put his home up for sale, and was suddenly fired without cause. Rocko recovered all his client's economic losses, and then some.
Meanwhile, positions on major public issues became a growing part of his busy office. In the early '70s, Rocko represented consumers opposing sharp electric rate increases, accused utility executives of conflicts of interest, and called the company an illegal monopoly. The rate hike was substantially reduced. At the same time, he represented environmentalists battling a proposed 500-mile-long transmission line that would tear across eastern Arizona. In that case, his stance led to changes that the company would later admit involved "aesthetic and ecological considerations that are without precedent in a line of that size and length."
Rocko even began training interns to help with the workload, with some of them later building up the environmental movement nationwide, including creation of the Conference of Consumer Organizations (COCO), with chapters across the country. And he participated in Washington hearings by the Senate Select Committee on Small Business seeking better oversight of electric utilities.
That was the era of widespread debate over a proposed equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Naturally, Rocko joined that fight, too, and set up a group he called "Men for Ratification." His team identified dozens of Arizona statutes that contained clearly discriminatory language, all of them doomed to become obsolete upon ERA passage. Although enough states have now passed the amendment to have made it official in earlier decades, a Congress-imposed time limit still prevents formal adoption and, sadly, Arizona has yet to approve it.
Even in the midst of his legal endeavors, Rocko spent time pursuing yet another work plan…as an inventor.
His creation bears a formidable title - "Bio-Mechanical Neuro-Sensory Keyboard Structure and Operating Methods" - but could also be called US Patent #4762436. Rocko, with his then-wife Barbara, developed and marketed a brand new way to teach touch-typing on the kinds of keyboards being newly developed for computers.
While the patent itself is filled with technical jargon - "…the hand positioning structures function by the neuro-sensory process of 2-point discrimination…" - for Rocko it meant manufacturing and selling boxes of his product by the hundreds, each helping a student, office worker, or stay-at-home Mom learn to type more quickly than ever. The business would eventually overshadow Rocko's legal work and continued until recent years.
Rounding out the personal side of his life, two decades ago Rocko met Kathryn "KL" Lance, the science fiction writer, and their union remained "Rock Solid" ever since, the couple together enjoying the endless wonders of southern Arizona, its restaurants, and its limitless natural beauty.
He is survived by his wife, KL; brother, sisters-in-law, and beloved household feline companions Tasha and Shala. Private memorial services were held in Utica, NY. Rocko's family, friends and former business associates all miss him dearly, and thank you for reading about his fascinating life and accomplishments. Arrangements by BRING'S BROADWAY CHAPEL.