John L. Heath, Heath Candy Bar heir, died Monday, January 9, 2006, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Heath was the grandson of the founder of L.S. Heath and Sons, established in 1914 and head quartered in Robinson, Illinois.
Heath was born in Robinson on December 30, 1935. He worked for the Heath Candy Company from 1962 until 1988. He was the Chairman, President and CEO from 1971 to 1982, and he remained as the Chairman of the Board until 1988. Heath retired from the day-to-day operations of the candy company in 1985 and moved to Paradise Valley, Arizona. He and his brother, Allan Heath, sold their interest in L.S. Heath and Sons to the Leaf Candy Company in 1989. Heath intentionally orchestrated the sale to Leaf to keep the candy manufacturing plant operational in his small hometown of 7,000 residents. The Leaf Candy Company, manufactures of Whoppers, Milk Duds and Payday, was subsequently purchased by Hershey.
Heath was a well known community leader in Illinois and Arizona. He served on numerous boards and commissions, including bank boards and hospital boards in both states. He also served on the Central Illinois Power Service Board of Directors, the Board of Endowment for Eastern Illinois University and the Endowment Board of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Within the candy industry, Heath was highly involved with the National Confectioners Association, and he was often a featured speaker at national candy conventions.
He was particularly proud to be a former investor in the Phoenix Suns. Heath was a graduate of Robinson High School and Eastern Illinois University. He served in the military in the Army Signal Core at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Prior to joining the candy company, Heath was a radio personality and Station Manager at WEIC in Charleston, Illinois.
He is survived by his wife Sheila, his brother Allan, his sons Larry and David and his daughters Kerry and April. His four children awarded Heath with nine grandchildren. His entire family resides in metro Phoenix, Arizona. Services have concluded.
Published in The Arizona Republic on 1/29/2006.