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Archive for November 3rd, 2010

Mourning Milton Hershey

Paying his respects to Milton Hershey at the Hershey Cemetery, 10/16/1945

Paying his respects to Milton Hershey at the Hershey Cemetery, 10/16/1945


Until his death , Milton Hershey’s interest in new ideas and his concern for the well being of others remained a constant thread in his life. He lived to see the end of World War II and died on October 13, 1945, one month after his 88th birthday. True to his priorities, his will directed that his estate be used to establish a trust fund benefitting Hershey’s public school system. On the day of his funeral, the town came to a halt. Thousands honored him at a viewing and funeral service held at Senior Hall. Afterwards he was laid to rest alongside his parents and his wife, Kitty, in the Hershey Cemetery.


Gordon Rentschler, who had worked with Milton Hershey for 30 years and was chairman of the Board for National City Bank of New York, sent a telegram of condolences which included this memory of the man:


“I admired him from the beginning. It was always an inspiration to see the way he calmly and quietly and tenaciously fought his way through one obstacle after the other until he achieved his big success. And it was an inspiration, too, to find that he measured success, not in dollars, but in terms of a good product to pass on to the public, and still more in the usefulness of those dollars for the benefit of his fellow men. His life and work will always remain a great inspiration to us all.”

Hershey’s Y.M.C.A.

YMCA, Busy Men's Gym Class, ca. 1912-1913

YMCA, Busy Men's Gym Class, ca. 1912-1913

The Y.M.C.A. [Young Men’s Christian Association] was first established in London, England in 1844, in response to poor living conditions resulting from the industrial revolution. The goal of the organization was the “improvement of the spiritual, mental, social and physical condition of young men.” YMCAs quickly spread to the United States. A chapter was established in Harrisburg in 1854 and in Lancaster in 1859.


The Hershey Chocolate Factory had only been open four years when Milton Hershey proposed organizing a YMCA in Hershey. The Cocoa House, located at the intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues, was expanded with the construction of a gymnasium, sixty by ninety feet. It included a mezzanine level running track that encircled the gym, which was also used as a spectator gallery for basketball games. A large swimming pool, locker rooms, and showers were constructed in the basement. The new addition also included a game room, with billiard tables, pool tables and a shuffleboard.


Hershey’s new newspaper, “Hershey Press,” heavily promoted the new organization, running front page stories about YMCAs almost every week during the fall of 1909. By December 17 the paper listed 85 people as the first members of the new organization. The “Y” officially opened February 3, 1910 with an open house and lecture.


YMCA quickly became an important part of Hershey’s recreational and cultural life. True to the national organization’s commitment to encourage the development of men’s body, minds and spirit, the Hershey “Y” offered a variety of exercise programs and organized a variety of sports teams, including basketball, football and baseball teams. It hosted lectures and performances for the community. The “Y” also offered boarding rooms for single men and housed a reading room.


In 1914 the Hershey discontinued its association with the national YMCA. The program was reorganized as the Hershey’s Men’s Club which continued the programs of the “Y” but operated as an independent organization.