An early taste for business

Published 10:29 am Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mower County Transcript, September 13, 1911

“Jay Hormel left Wednesday for Princeton, N.J. to take up studies at the famous university.”

Mower County Transcript, September 13, 1914

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“Jay Hormel who completed the junior year at Princeton University in June has decided not to return to his studies next year and is making a practical study of all departments of the Hormel Packing plant.”

Jay C. Hormel pictured with other students at Princeton. Photo provided

Jay spent three years at the esteemed university, but ultimately returned to his father’s side in the family business. George had hoped that Jay would choose a less “exacting, treacherous, and confining” profession than the packing business. His friends Samuel Catherwood and Russ Shepherd were lawyers, and he felt Jay would do well to follow in their path. George wrote that “He [Jay] had the chance to step into a field which I could never hope to reach, and I urged him to take advantage of his opportunities.” But according to his father, Jay didn’t want to enter a profession. “He had set his heart on being a business man.”

While at Princeton Jay succeeded with his entrepreneurial drive but not necessarily in his academic pursuits. During his third year, Jay began requesting greater sums of money from his father. George inquired of the Dean an explanation of his son’s behavior and learned that Jay had taken over a laundry business at Princeton. Apparently Jay felt the system was antiquated and inadequate so he began investing his father’s money in new machinery and making a profit in the meantime. George wrote that “the Dean warned us that at the end of his four year term, Jay would have a fine laundry and a poor class record.”

Jay was a member of the Cliosophic Society (a literary and debate society) at Princeton and he joined the Cloister Inn eating club for social purposes. He also returned there in 1917 for extended military training before he reported for military duty at Camp Dodge later that year.

Although Jay was not a graduating member of the Princeton class of 1915, a Princeton archivist has indicated that, in the spirit of Princeton’s traditions, Jay was considered a member of the class for the rest of his life. To learn more about Jay’s time at university visit the Hormel Historic Home.

6th Annual Stepping Out For Autism Walk

1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 23

Walk-up registration begins at 12:30 p.m.