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 Herman Warden Lay

Herman Warden Lay

Birth
Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA
Death 6 Dec 1982 (aged 73)
Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA
Burial Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA
Plot Whispering Waters Section
Memorial ID 13786341 · View Source
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Businessman, Entrepreneur. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, he is best known as being the founder of the H.W. Lay Company, Inc., later part of the Frito-Lay Corporation. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, to a farmer named Jesse N. Lay and his wife Bertha Erman Parr Lay, his first job was working on the family farm. The family moved to Blackville, South Carolina, and then to Greenville, South Carolina, where he bagan to get interested in business. At the age of 11, he sold Pepsi-Cola to baseball players at the local ballfield charging them a nickel a bottle, and then selling peanuts. He also hired other boys to help him and he delivered newspapers. In 1926, he began to excel in sports including baseball, track, and basketball while attending the Greenville High School. After graduating from high school he received an athletic acholarship to attend the Furman University but dropped out 2 years later to pursue a sales career. In 1928, he went to Houston, Texas, where he and a friend invested $100 in ice cream to sell at the 1928 Democratic Convention parade, but the parade was rerouted and the business idea was a failure. After that, he went to Washington and worked as a lumberjack, before returning to South Carolina, to work as a salesman in a jewelry store, trainee for a farm machinery company, and as an employee of the Sunshine Biscuit Company in Atlanta, Georgia. By the time he was 24, Lay owned a 1929 Model-A-Ford car, had a few dollars in his pocket, but no steady job. During the Great Depression jobs were hard to come by for Lay and he placed several want ads and letters in over 200 newspapers. A week later he received an offer from the Barrett Chip Company in Atlanta, Georgia, but later changed his mind saying that there was no future in potato chips. He later changed his mine about the job, but the job had been taken, so the company turned him into one of there salesman instead. He was named distributor of the Barrett's Company office in Nashville, Tennesse, and began selling potato chips in his car to road stands, schools, grocery stores, soda shops, hospitals, and even door to door. By 1933, he was a top salesman, and by 1936 he had expanded his business by 25 employees. In 1935 he married Amelia 'Mimi' Harper, and they had four children. The family settled in Nashville, Tennessee, but later moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in October 1939, when a representative for the Barrett Company offered to sell him the company's plants located in Atlanta, Georgia, and Memphis, Tennessee, for $60,000. Lay accepted the offer and changed the company's name to the H.W. Lay Company. During the next few years Lay bought more plants including ones in Jacksonville, Florida, Jackson, Mississppi, Louisville, Kentucky, and Greensboro, North Carolina, and two snack companies in the 1950s. By 1956, the H.W. Lay & Company had become publically owned and was of the largest producers of potato chips and snack foods in the United States. The company had over 1,000 employees, manufacturing plants in eight cities, and branches or warehouses in 13 cities. In 1961, the company merged with the Frito Company in Dallas, Texas, becoming the Frito-Lay, Inc, with Lay becoming Chief Executive officer, Chairman and then CEO. The family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to Dallas, Texas, and settled into a big mansion. After the move Lay again was looking to further the expansion of his company, so he chose Pepsi-Cola as the perfect partner, with over 5,000 employees working in over 100 countries. The merger was completed in 1965, and Lay was elected Chairman of the Board. He continued to work for the company for many years but in 1971 he relinguished the roles of Chairman and CEO and moved into the office of Chairman of the Executive Committe of Pepsi-Cola, but retired in 1980 to go into private business with his son. He also served as a Member and Chairman of the Advisory Council to the Furman University Board of Trustees, National Co-Chairman of Furman's Program of Greatness, Chairman of the Baylor University Medical Foundation, and as a Trustee of Baylor University and Drury College. Known for his many actions of generosity he was also the recipient of many honors including Furman Alumnus of the Year in 1967, Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, Member of the Furman University Hall of Fame in 1970, Entrepreneur of the Year in 1972, Person of the Year in 1974, Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement in 1975, the Alumnus Horis Causa special award from Baylor Univeristy in 1980, and the Horatio Alger Award from the American Schools and College Associations in 1969. Lay passed away at Baylor Hospital in 1982, at the age of 73. He was posthumously inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2002.

Bio by: Peterborough K


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 30 Mar 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13786341
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Herman Warden Lay (6 Mar 1909–6 Dec 1982), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13786341, citing Restland Memorial Park, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .