Honoring a special Hormel anniversary

Published 10:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today I honor the 96th wedding anniversary of Jay and Germaine Hormel. On May 19, 1922, the couple wed in England, and according to the Austin Daily Herald, “it came as a complete surprise to all but the members of the groom’s family and his closest friends.”

Below is an excerpt about his parent’s marriage from Jim Hormel’s autobiography, Fit To Serve.

“Germaine Dubois was born in La Vernelle, a French village of six hundred people surrounded by farms. She was twenty-one years old when my father, a U.S. Army lieutenant serving in World War I, pedaled a bike through the centuries old town and laid eyes on her. She had brilliant green eyes, shiny dark hair, and a movie star’s wide, toothy smile. With an angular face, thick eyebrows, and an aquiline nose, Daddy wasn’t classically handsome, but he had a glint in his blue eyes and a sly half-smile that always left one wondering what private humor he was enjoying.

Jay and Germaine Hormel. Photo provided

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In September 1918, when Daddy’s tour of duty ended, they said goodbye. He returned to Austin to immerse himself in the meatpacking business. Mamma moved to Paris and took a job in a millinery shop.

Nearly four years after he left France, Daddy boarded a ship with little or no explanation, and went to get Mamma. That was just like him-impetuous and unpredictable. We never found letters or other evidence that they kept in touch, but somehow Mamma was waiting for him. They stopped in England and married in Cheshire, depriving my grandparents and all southern Minnesota of a huge celebration. By the time Mamma arrived stateside in 1922, the Austin Daily Herald had already reported on the surprise marriage.”

Married for 32 years, the couple shared a life of love and devotion that influenced their children and those around them. Their legacy in Austin lives on in many ways — The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, The Hormel Institute, Spam, and their treasured home which is now Gerard Academy. That spectacular home, once a luxury hotel and restaurant known as King’s Wood, now serves those with emotional and mental health needs.

Guests at the sold out King’s Wood dinner will toast to Jay and Germaine and their legacy as we celebrate the history of King’s Wood at the Hormel Historic Home this evening.

Oakwood Cemetery Tour,

Mower County Soldier Stories

3:30 or 5:30 p.m.; 60 minute a tour, Sunday, June 3

Led by Jaimie Timm of the Mower County Historical Society. Cost is $8 for members of the HHH or Historical Society and $10 for nonmembers. Limited to 15 per tour. Tickets available at www.hormelhistorichome.org/calendar