Robert Herrick holds up a picture  of his son, Roak, causing him  to smile at their home on Nov. 24.

Robert Herrick holds up a picture of his son, Roak, causing him to smile at their home on Nov. 24.

Photo by Sean Work

Local tot, named after Royal Oak, wins 2 categories in baby competition

By: Sherri Kolade | Royal Oak Review | Published December 5, 2017

 Roak Herrick, 1, was voted Detroit’s Most Photogenic Baby and won the Precious category in a 2017 competition.

Roak Herrick, 1, was voted Detroit’s Most Photogenic Baby and won the Precious category in a 2017 competition.

Photo by Sean Work

ROYAL OAK —  A Royal Oak tot’s adorable blue eyes and charming smile easily won him straight into the hearts of many who selected him as the winner in two categories for a photogenic baby competition.

Roak Herrick, 1, was voted Most Photogenic Infant and won the Precious category in the 2017 Detroit’s Most Photogenic Babies contest benefiting Beaumont Children’s Hospital. 

“We are very proud of him, and want the world and the Royal Oak/Detroit area to know as well,” Roak’s beaming father, Robert Herrick, 32, said via email recently. 

His wife, Erin Bouhana-Herrick, echoed similar thoughts of their only child.

Roak’s win, though special, is not the only thing that makes him stand out. 

Roak Robert Herrick bears his father’s middle name and is named after the city of Royal Oak.

During a phone interview, Robert Herrick, a stay-at-home dad, said that naming his child Roak (pronounced like “Oak” with the letter “R” in front) was his brainchild.

“It is a culmination of many things. Actually, my wife and I met in Royal Oak, and we got engaged in Royal Oak, and we had our baby … in Royal Oak,” he said. 

He added that he and his wife agreed on naming their baby something that begins with the letter “R.”

“I was just joking around one day … that (because) we had so many memories and we live in Royal Oak ... how about the name Roak … and she agreed on that.”

Herrick said that, naturally, he was excited, but somewhat hesitant too.

“I thought at first, kind of, kids might make fun of him,” he said, but another factor outweighed that decision. “I thought it was cool.”

He added that he has heard of children named after bigger cities like New York and the like, but not something of Royal Oak’s smaller scale.

Roak also has a few nicknames, with “Roakiebear” being one that the couple uses a lot.

Erin Bouhana-Herrick, 30, an obstetrician and gynecologic surgeon at Beaumont, Royal Oak, said that when her husband first suggested the name Roak, she “liked it right away.”

The first-time mother described her son as the sweetest and cuddliest baby boy.

“He has the best belly laugh that I have ever heard, and he always turns my bad days around,” she said, adding that she liked the name because it was significant and something else.

“I also like that it was unique; I never wanted my child to have the same name as five other kids in his class,” she said.

And he most certainly won’t.

There is, however, another entity with the name Roak in Royal Oak. The Roak Brewing Co., 330 E. Lincoln Ave., opened in June 2015, and is a brewhouse and taproom.

The brewing company, which was not available for a quote by press time, stated on its website that Roak is a nod to its home city of Royal Oak. 

Herrick said that Roak Brewing Co. reached out to his family a few times, and during Roak’s birthday, they wished him happy birthday.

Herrick said that his family is based in the city (that they moved to after college) because it has a lot available for young families, nice places to eat, and is overall a great place to raise a family.  

Roak was initially named Detroit’s most photogenic baby in the early fall; the Herrick family found out Oct. 17.

Roak was selected out of about 15-20 other metro Detroit babies and was voted on by the public. He received 1,350 votes for most photogenic, and 1,040 votes in the Precious category.

Bouhana-Herrick, who selected the winning photo, said that the most rewarding part of Roak being named Detroit’s most photogenic baby is that other people think her child is cute too.

“I know every parent thinks their kid is super cute, but it’s nice to know that other people think that about your kid too,” she said.

The baby competition, in total, raised $5,650 dollars (with the cost to vote being 50 cents each online), with all proceeds benefiting the Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Royal Oak.

Bouhana-Herrick said that as an employee of Beaumont, Royal Oak, she is thrilled by the fact that the donations used to vote for her son go to one of the hospitals she works for.

“(It) is amazing,” she said.

Competition officials were unable to respond by press time; Beaumont representatives declined to comment.

Herrick said that since winning the contest, Roak will be getting into modeling now, and the family is working with a modeling agency in Seattle. The future is looking bright for Roak, whose name will always invoke memories of the city that his parents call home.

“It was nice to have something that tied back to the memories of how my wife and I met, and (how) everything came about,” Herrick said. “Hopefully, in the future, he’ll be here and people won’t make fun of him too much about his name and associate him with the city.”

For more information, visit