Friends gather to honor Herr and get their books signed

Photo by Chris Barber The family of the late Jim Herr gathers around a stack of his biography written by author Bruce Mowday. From left are Ed Herr, Gene Herr, Martha Herr Thomas, Mim Herr (Jim's widow), June Herr Gunden and Jim Herr Jr.

EAST NOTTINGHAM -- Friends and neighbors of the late Jim Herr gathered Monday to honor his memory and get signed copies of the book about him.

Herr, who died in April at age 87, was the founder of Herr Foods, a snack food company that he started from just a small potato chip business when he was young.

For about two years before he died, author Bruce Mowday was working on Herr's biography, and the book was published earlier this summer.

When he was asked why he chose Herr for the book, Mowday said, 'I love good stories. How can you get any better than Jim Herr? He's a real Horatio Alger story. He began with just a high school education and had to borrow money to start the company.'

Herr launched his career in 1946, starting a potato chip company with sales averaging about $30 a week. Through the years, the sales volume has grown to more than $100 million per year with more than 1,000 employees.

Mowday's book is called, 'Living with Flavor' and features a picture of Herr holding a bag on potato chips on the cover.

The author said that Herr and his wife, Mim, showed amazing vigor during those two years of interviews, even at their advanced age. Mowday said at the end of mornings when he was beginning to get tired, Herr would suggest they eat lunch and then get right back to work on the book.

About 50 people showed up for the reception at the Herr Foods visitors center, the place where people begin their tours of the company and end by buying souvenirs and grabbing a bite to eat.

Herr's wife and children were there to greet the guests.

Daughter June Herr Gunden said Mowday did the research for the book, but her brother, Jim Herr Jr., set up the interviews and guided Mowday to meet people who were important to their father.

When asked about her father, Gunden said he was healthy until the last few months of his life, when he contracted pneumonia. She added that her father ate potato chips every day, but in moderation. 'He was a balanced eater,' she said.

Genden said she helped Mowday write and phrase things the way her father would have wanted.

Ed Herr, Jim Herr's son who now leads the company, was on hand to greet guests. He guided them to the refreshment center, where a lavish spread of party food was offered.

The reception was open to the public, and those who attended had a chance to have their books signed by Mowday.

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