Germantown donor Richard Hummel made a double red blood cell donation Wednesday, Dec. 17 at the Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC), which jumped his lifetime donation total from 98 to the milestone of 100. As a lifetime collector of the famous Hummel figurines, he knows how a simple gift can grow in value. “I wanted to reach 100 before the end of the year,” he said. “But I didn’t stop to think about it… I guess it really is special.”
Richard lives alone on his Germantown farm, has never married and has no regrets. He cared for his mother – also a Hummel collector – until she passed away in 2000. “We have probably 130 (figurines),” he said. “I gave mom most of them.” He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003 and must wear ankle braces to steady his walk. He remains stubbornly independent, and with an O-negative blood type – the “universal donor” – he feels an obligation to help others.
“I started in the ‘50’s,” he said of his journey to 100 donations. “Somebody in the Farmersville area needed blood and I donated.” He continued donating during his 15 years as a welder with NCR. He went to work for Frigidaire in 1972, beginning his long career with General Motors. “Chevy came in July of 1982 and we built the first S-10 pickup truck.” He’s proud to say he was still working for GM when the one millionth S-10 rolled off the assembly line, a vehicle now on display at Carillon Park.
“I worked for GM and I always would donate at work,” he said. “You got a little bit of a rest at work, and you got paid for it!”
He doesn’t trace any lineage to the Hummel name, but the history of the classic figurines interests him even more than his role in helping build the Chevy brand.
“My grandmother and grandfather came from Germany and they were from an area near Bern, Switzerland sort of ‘next door’ to where the Hummels came from. A Catholic nun was a school teacher and was very proficient making drawings of school children.”
Berta Hummel took the religious name Sister Maria Innocentia. She reluctantly agreed to allow an art house to publish post cards of her paintings, which were later discovered by the porcelain company owner Franz Goebel. Though the Nazis seized half of the income from the figurines, sales proceeds continued to fund Sister Maria’s convent.
“I met her brother in Eaton at the annual International Hummel festival,” said Richard. The event was sponsored for years by Robert Miller who was considered an expert on Hummels and owned an extensive collection of more than 4,000 pieces.
Richard laments that Miller was forced to sell his collection, and over the years the value of the classic figurines has fallen. But a constant for him has been the opportunity to help save lives through blood donations. “I’ve been blessed with good health, a good job, and a blood type that helps a lot of people,” he said. “As long as I’m healthy, I’ll keep donating.”