History from Hormel grandsons

Published 7:01 am Sunday, December 6, 2015

Friday, Dec. 4 would have been George A. Hormel’s 155th birthday.  I wonder what he would think about the fact that people still recognize him as someone worthy of remembering.

I recently had the chance to meet with his two surviving grandsons, Tom and Jim, and based on their humble acceptance of the seriousness with which we approach the preservation of their family’s legacy in Austin, I think George, too, would be humbled. George was a modest man, but he was filled with a drive and work ethic that led him to achieve success for himself and also for his family.

His grandsons, now 85 and 82, shared memories of their grandfather and showed obvious admiration for his determination and professionalism. They also recognized that his business prowess and expertise were learned mainly though observation, practice, and experience-not through formal education. They talked about their father, Jay C. Hormel, and mother, Germaine Dubois Hormel, who influenced and greatly molded their lives.

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Over the past few months I have had some communication with Tom. He recently shared with the Hormel Historic Home a book showcasing the artwork he has created over his lifetime and some of his original music compositions. During one of our conversations he asked if I would be interested in visiting in person with him and his brother, Jim, who lives in San Francisco. Of course I said yes. However, when the invitation actually came to meet with them, I was both stunned and excited.

Tom encouraged me to compile a list of questions for him and Jim to consider and then offered to answer them in a filmed and recorded interview style set-up. So, three days before Thanksgiving, a HHH Board Member, Pam Retterath, and I flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to meet the brothers. We were welcomed into Tom’s home as if we were family. Over two days we talked openly about the boys’ upbringing in Austin, about their lives after leaving Austin and about their family’s legacy.

When asked how they felt about our commitment to preserving their heritage, they both said they were “flattered.” They even seemed shy, wondering why we would want to. Pam, who works at Gerard (the childhood home of these Hormel men), visited with Tom and Jim about various rooms in that facility and many fun, and some mischievous, memories were conjured up.

The three and a half hours of filmed interview is currently being edited. When available I look forward to sharing the footage in, as yet, undetermined ways.

Happy birthday to George and thanks to his grandsons for sharing their lives with us.

History Happy Hour

5:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 14, 2015

“Travesia Musical” Piano concert by Peggy Reich.

Free for members of the HHH, the Mower County Historical Society, and the Friends of the Library. $5 for non-members. Light snacks included. Cash bar will be available. Seating will be limited. Reservations required. Call 507-433-4243