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    Harold 'Skeets' Heritage Dies

    Industry pioneer and early NACS member was 80.

    WESTVILLE GROVE, N.J. -- Harold M. "Skeets" Heritage, who opened the first Heritage's Dairy Store in 1957 and watched his convenience store empire grow to 36 stores in five South Jersey counties, died Sunday at Underwood-Memorial Hospital in Woodbury. He was 80.

    A pioneer in the convenience store industry in South Jersey, Heritage and his father, Harold H. "Skeets" Heritage, made a mid-'50s trip through Midwestern states to see how another chain, Lawson's, was operating.

    "They saw that the trend was going away from home delivery," says John R. "Jack" Heritage, son and grandson. "They modeled their stores after Lawson's."

    The Heritages first store in Westville Grove, N.J. opened Oct. 11, 1957. It was selected because of the heavy traffic in that area. It remains open. The 36th store and last to open in Woodbury was dedicated to Harold M. Heritage (pictured at dedication ceremony.)

    The Heritage stores were the first convenience stores to open in South Jersey. Skeets, the company's long-time president, was among the first members of the National Association of Convenience Stores. (NACS.)

    "His honesty was impeccable and he treated others the way he wanted to be treated, living by the Golden Rule," says Jack Heritage, one of the five children of Skeets and Mary Edith Heritage. "He was the most honorable man I've known."

    Heritage retired from his duties as company president in 1988 but at the time of his death remained the company's chief executive.

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