Herbert Aschkenasy was born in Austria in 1931, died January 12, 2012.
He grew up in New York and moved to Albany when he became president of Oregon Freeze Dry Foods. He was longtime president and later became the company’s chairman and CEO.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Herb was 9 years old when the Aschkenasy family came to New York in 1941. He grew up in the Bronx and attended the Bronx High School of Science, graduated from the City University of New York (now City College of New York) with a Bachelor of Science, received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of New York, and did postdoctoral research at Cambridge University. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict.
Herb married Ruth Kurland on July 11, 1954 in The Bronx, New York. Ruth and their three children survive, Leah Reid of New York City, David Aschkenasy of San Diego, and Dr. Miriam Aschkenasy of Massachusetts. Herb’s parents preceded him in death.
Herb and Ruth lived in Philadelphia and Kentucky while Herb held technical, sales, and management positions with Celanese Corporation and Rohm & Haas.
Herb transferred to Oregon Freeze Dry in 1981 from the Chemical Group of Philip Morris Industrial, where he served as president. Oregon Freeze Dry Foods (as it was then called) had fallen on hard times during the stewardship of the 7-Up Company, which had acquired it in 1978, prior to being itself acquired by Philip Morris. After a period of rebuilding the company, in 1986 he led a management team in the purchase of Oregon Freeze Dry from Philip Morris Incorporated.
Under his leadership the company grew by adding facilities in Albany and acquiring companies with manufacturing facilities in England and Denmark, and establishing a sales office in Japan. He was appointed chairman in January of 2011.
Herb received a gubernatorial appointment to the board of the State-owned workers’ compensation company (SAIF) and was elected chairman from 1988 through 1993. He was subsequently appointed to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education in September 1993 and served until September 2001, including a term as president. He was also on the board of Associated Oregon Industries, was a past chairman of the Northwest Food Processors Association, and served on other religious and charitable boards. In November of 2011 his alma mater, City College of New York, awarded Herb the Townsend Harris Medal for outstanding post-graduate achievement.
Herb was also a pillar of the Salem Jewish Congregation (Temple Beth Sholom), serving as president and trustee for many years. His contributions to Jewish Life and presence in Salem were exemplary. His commitment to the community was unconditional and honored his family heritage honorably. Herb was a respected and trusted sage to rabbis, leaders and staff.
A memorial service will be held by Oregon Freeze Dry at the Russell Tripp Performance Center at the Linn-Benton Community College at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18. Memorial contributions may be made to Temple Beth or OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
Arrangements by Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.
Published in StatesmanJournal on Jan. 15, 2012
From an article by Allan Brettman in The Oregonian/OregonLive posted on January 24, 2015
Oregon Freeze Dry Foods got its start in the early 1960s, as a group of investors pooled money to start construction on factory. They chose Albany for its access to local fruit – strawberries, to be specific – and low-cost energy. The first freeze-dried product was strawberries, to fulfill a General Foods cereal contract.
The company got a boost later in the decade when it was picked to supply freeze-dried meals to the military during the Vietnam War.
As the war neared its conclusion, returning veterans contacted REI seeking “long-range patrol rations,” (Reiner) Bohlen, (marketing manager) said. (Oregon Freeze Dry has kept the Nov. 28, 1967 letter REI sent making the request, Bohlen said.) See the letter here.
The brand’s name (Mountain House) came from a restaurant former company president Ellis Byer saw on a drive through Central Oregon, called Mountain House.