Honoring the legacies of prominent local residents
● By Steven Hoffman
James S. Herr was not born in Oxford and he did not graduate from Oxford Area High School. But from the time that he relocated his small snack food company to Nottingham in 1951, he was a part of the Oxford community. He and his wife, Miriam, raised their children in Nottingham. During the last half of the 20th century, Herr Foods grew into one of the area’s largest employers. The company shipped its products all over the world, and the company’s headquarters remained in Nottingham.
James S. Herr became one of the most dedicated and reliable public servants in the community, lending his support to countless initiatives that were to the Oxford area’s benefit. He established his family’s trait of quietly offering financial support to local nonprofits without any fanfare. He took on leadership roles in the community, like serving on the Oxford School Board.
When the Herr Foods founder passed away in 2012, his legacy as one of the most respected businessmen in Pennsylvania was secure.
The auditorium at Oxford Area High School has now been officially renamed the James S. Herr Auditorium, an appropriate honor for a man who deserves to have his name remembered. Kudos to the Oxford Area School District for honoring a man who held an influential place in the community for decades.
This year, Oxford lost two other prominent citizens, Carl Fretz and John H. Ware, IV. Like Herr, these two men demonstrated their support for the Oxford community decade after decade.
People like James S. Herr, John Ware IV, and Carl Fretz are rare indeed, and a community is certainly blessed when they have such capable proponents.
Oxford Borough Council recently broached the topic of how the contributions of Ware and Fretz can be commemorated. One possibility that was mentioned, briefly, is the renaming of streets in their honor.
We hope that Oxford Borough officials are able to find an appropriate way to honor Ware and Fretz the way that the school district found a way to honor Herr.
The contributions of Herr, Fretz, and Ware will never be forgotten by their contemporaries, but time moves on and the significance of their community service may be lost to history unless the community takes steps to make sure that doesn’t happen. These men have played an important part in the history of Oxford and they—and others like them—need to have their deeds immortalized so that future generations can learn about them.