Taste of History Luncheon
When: 11:30 a.m. Thursday
Where: First Baptist Church, banquet hall, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville
More info: 770-297-5900
The Northeast Georgia History Center is honoring three area businessmen as “local legacies” in its annual Taste of History Luncheon.
“These three gentlemen came from very different backgrounds, but all have … the desire or the need to overcome any obstacles to make their business a success, then to stretch that success to become widely known and respected in their field,” said Cheryl Vandiver, chairwoman of the fundraising event.
“Coming from very little, they now give back to the community in very different ways,” she said. “Some might say rags to riches, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, but I would say pure determination and hard work has earned these gentlemen the title of local legacy.”
Cooley, a native of Burlington, N.C., is president of J&B Property Management.
His family moved to Gainesville in the early 1950s. From the 1950s through the 1970s, he worked in a variety of roles with family-owned poultry businesses. From 2002 to 2007, he managed commercial properties, including three poultry processing plants.
In January, after opening and later selling Pro View Foods, Cooley bought two spring water bottling plants in Blue Ridge to begin his newest venture.
“It’s a great honor,” he said of Thursday’s event.
Jack Frost, a native of Sevier County, Tennessee, owns Memorial Park Funeral Home, which has locations off Memorial Park Road and Riverside Drive in Gainesville and Falcon Parkway in Flowery Branch. He is developing Memorial Park East Cemetery in Braselton.
He bought his first cemetery in College Park in 1961. Over the next 50 years he bought, developed and sold more than 100 cemeteries and funeral homes in several states.
Frost sees the event as less of an honor and more a telling of “my life story.”
“Having the opportunity to work with (the history center) has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” he said.
Milton Robson, who moved to Georgia when he was 9, started selling chicken products out of the back of his El Camino for gas money when he was a teenager.
He started buying unique cars at 25, eventually turning that venture into a profitable business.
Robson opened Milton’s Portioned Packed Meats in 1972, which became Prime Pak in 1985.
Robson also founded Milton’s Institutional Foods, now known as PFG-Milton’s, which he sold in the 1990s.
“It’s just an honor for them to think of you (as a legacy),” he said. “It’s just something you appreciate.”