Robert Heist: The Milton Hershey School

A principal at the Chicago law firm of R. Connor & Associates, PC, Robert Heist is a director of the Hershey Trust Company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Milton Hershey School Trust, and he is a manager of the Milton Hershey School.

Milton Hershey, the successful entrepreneur, established the chocolate factory and town that bear his name in central Pennsylvania. The endeavor was a model of careful planning, and ground was broken for the factory in 1903. By 1905, the factory and town were up and running and Hershey had all the services necessary for a growing community.

When Mr. Hershey and his wife, Catherine, learned that she could not bear children, they decided to establish an orphanage as an outlet for their deep love of children. By 1909, the Hershey Industrial School was formed. The school was named in recognition of Mr. Hershey’s determination that all graduates have a vocation, and its first class consisted of 10 boys. By 1915, the year that Catherine Hershey died, that number had grown to 40. Mr. Hershey bequeathed his entire fortune to the school, about $60 million at the time.

Renamed the Milton Hershey School in 1951, the school today has grown to more than 2,600 acres in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, and it serves a coeducational population of more than 1,800 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. It houses, feeds, and clothes its students, and it provides a full educational experience concentrating on preparation for college. The school also subsidizes the college education of those graduates who meet academic standards.

The school is funded by the Milton Hershey School Trust, which controls the chocolate company and the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company (HERCO), which owns several area hotels and restaurants, a country club, and the Hersheypark theme park, among many other enterprises. Thousands of Americans have graduated from the Milton Hershey School, and many of them have gone on to distinguish themselves in all walks of life.

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