EATON — A man who touched many aspects of the Eaton community died last week, leaving behind a lasting legacy of community service, philanthropy and business leadership.
Jack Cobb passed away peacefully at the Hospice of Dayton on Nov. 20, 2015 with his family by his side, according to family members and Henny Penny officials.
Cobb is the former owner and long-time president and CEO of the Henny Penny Corporation, which is headquartered in Eaton. He started at Henny Penny in 1959, according to Henny Penny spokesman Jeff Frymier. He was the company’s fourth employee, became vice president in 1970 and six years later, became president when he and his business partner purchased the company.
In 1985, Cobb became the sole owner of Henny Penny and served as president and CEO through 1996.
“Jack’s leadership, vision, and the culture he created enabled Henny Penny to grow into one of the most respected foodservice equipment manufacturers in the world,” Frymier noted in a press release.
The release continued: “Jack led by example. He worked long hours; many recall seeing him in the plant at any hour of the day. He empowered employees. They were as loyal to him and Henny Penny as he was to them. He was considered and respected as tough, but fair.”
According to Frymier, many of the employees Cobb hired are either still working at Henny Penny or have since retired from there. “Jack made a commitment to every employee hired, ‘Do your part and we’ll keep you working,’” Frymier noted. “He and his company have kept this promise. To this day Henny Penny has never laid off a full-time manufacturing employee. Henny Penny is recognized as among the best in the world at what it does and nearly every employee refers to it as, ‘the best place I’ve ever worked.’”
In addition to his leadership at Henny Penny, Cobb was very involved in the community. According to the release, he served as president of the Eaton Little League when his sons were young. He served on Eaton City Council and led the city as mayor in the early 1970s. He was on the board of directors for the Germantown Federal Savings Bank for 22 years, was the co-chair for the Preble County YMCA Capital Campaign and an active member of the Eaton City Schools Master Planning Committee. Cobb was also a proud member of the Eaton Rotary for 51 years.
“He was a very quiet mentor and philanthropist. He assisted many organizations and individuals throughout the Miami Valley. He did not want buildings, fields or stadiums named in his honor. He gave of his time and resources because it was the right thing to do. He was a humble man who gave without fanfare,” Frymier noted.
“Jack’s legacy will be one of a great businessman but more than that — he was a loving husband, a caring father, a proud grandfather and a good man,” the release noted.
Jack is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 64 years, Betty. Jack and Betty were parents to three children: Rodney (Donna), Jeff (Sue) and Steve (Molly). They had seven grandchildren: Shelby Cobb, Kristen Neal (Michael), Michael Cobb, Emmy Cobb, John Hitchcock (Angie), Josh Burton and Wil Burton (Margaux). They also had two great-grandchildren: Mallory and Macy Hitchcock. Jack was born in Jackson, Kentucky on Jan. 1, 1932 to the late Lambert and Bessie Cobb. Two siblings preceded him in death, brothers James and William Cobb.
A memorial service in Jack Cobb’s honor will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 25. A reception will immediately follow at the Henny Penny Corporate Office at 1219 U.S. 35 West, Eaton.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683—-40-5