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February 13, 2006

Hip Hormel heir dies

George "Geordie" Hormel, heir to the Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp., died Sunday. He was 77.

He was a long silver haired musician who owned the Wrigley mansion in Arizona and had founded a famous recording studio.

In a 1997 interview, he said he and his three brothers were pushed out of the company when their father died, Hormel says he and his two brothers have no role in running the company but receive about $4 million apiece each year. A recording studio Geordie started in the 1960s became wildly successful and still earns him about $2 million a year. He also came into about $13 million when his mother died.

Here's some lyrics from a song he wrote:

"I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth

Spent the summers up North and the winters there too;

And everything was always exactly how

Things were s'posed to be;

From the top of the hill, all the town people looked

Like Judge Hardy families who lived by The Book;

And I learned about hunger from a chef and a cook

Who baked Alaskas for me."

Here's some from the AP story with local additions about his death.

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — George Hormel, heir to the Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp., died Sunday. He was 77.

Hormel, called Geordie by most, was known for his long, gray hair, casual style and generosity.

After being hospitalized for a week with an infection, Hormel returned home last Monday. He died at 6 a.m. Sunday with his wife, Jamie, and family by his side. His brothers, James Catherwood Hormel and Thomas Hormel, survive. James was appointed ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999, making him the first openly gay United States ambassador.


In his 20s, he had worked for two years in the Austin and Freemont, Neb., meatpacking plants owned by his family, according to the company.

“(His father) Jay Hormel died while Geordie was still in his early 20s, and Geordie left the company to pursue other interests. Since that time, Geordie has not had an active role in the company,” said company spokeswoman Julie Craven.

Hormel moved to the Phoenix area about 15 years ago and bought the 54,000-square-foot McCune Mansion.

In 1992, he bought the historic Wrigley Mansion, built by the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. in the late 1920s as a 50th wedding anniversary gift for his wife.

Hormel restored the mansion in Chicago to its original splendor featuring his private art collection. He often played piano at the Wrigley during Sunday brunch

Hormel was married four times. His first wife was actress Leslie Caron, who starred in such films as “An American in Paris” and “GiGi.”

He founded and owned the Village Recording Studio in Los Angeles. The musicians that recorded at the studio include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Melissa Ethridge, Oasis, Usher, and Nine Inch Nails.

Hormel’s music was widely used on television in the 1950s and 1960s with it being played on “Ozzie and Harriet,” “Lassie,” “The Fugitive,” “The Untouchables” and “Gunsmoke.”

Hormel took great pride in the state-of-the-art recording studio he built in his second 15,000-square-foot Paradise Valley home. The studio was unveiled when his family threw him a 75th birthday party. The Hormels brought in k.d. lang to entertain 300 friends.

Hormel had most recently been recording a new jazz CD.


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God Bless You, Georide Hormel ! Your friend Jack the Painter.

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