Edward James "Jim" Gress of Waverly passed away peacefully on Thursday, September 5, 2013, at VNA Hospice, Geisinger Community Medical Center, after a lengthy illness. His wife of 58 years is the former Rose Ezak Gress.
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Born on the 18th of June 1927, son of the late Michael and Julia Perrick Gress. Jim was raised in the Keyser Valley Section of Scranton and was a graduate of Scranton Central High School. He was a member of St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church.
In his youth, he worked at the Gress Family Store, adjacent to his home on Jackson St. He later purchased a property from his father with limited resources, to operate a feed store. Eventually, he began to eviscerate fowl brought from the local farmers in the area who purchased feed at the store and sold them bulk at wholesale markets throughout the Northeast.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Jim built a successful poultry operation, well known as Gress Poultry Inc., which evolved into the largest poultry processing facility in the Northeast. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., better known as the A&P Food Stores, purchased the plant to feed processed poultry to its network of retail stores throughout the region. Jim purchased the business back in 1969, with a vision to broaden his customer base into the burgeoning fast-food market and become a supplier to many franchises. In the years to follow, Jim and his sons pursued opportunities to market Gress Poultry's Fantasy Brand poultry productions worldwide.
In the early 1980s, Gress expanded into the refrigerated warehousing industry by purchasing Lackawanna Cold Storage, which was used to store frozen poultry inventory. Since then, Gress Refrigerated has expanded and currently serves many food processors and grocery distribution networks nationwide. Jim never retired and was an integral part of daily operations until shortly prior to his death.
A private family man, who loved his wife and children dearly, Jim was extremely ambitious and hardworking. He always helped anyone in need. He will be missed dearly.
In addition to his wife Rose, surviving are five sons, James and wife, Carmella, Chinchilla; Gary, Las Vegas; Glenn and wife, Natalie, Waverly; Dr. Jeffrey and wife, Joyce, Woodinville, Wash.; and Attorney Keith, Waverly; seven grandchildren, James, Michelle, Glenn, Alec, Jay, Nathan and Abigail.
He was preceded in death by three brothers and three sisters.
Funeral arrangements will be private at the convenience of the family.
There will be no public calling hours. Interment will be at the family mausoleum, Cathedral Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in the name of Edward J. Gress, St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church, 310 Mifflin Ave., Scranton, PA 18503.
Funeral services have been entrusted to the Thomas J. Hughes Funeral Home Inc., 1240 St. Ann's St., Scranton, PA.
Published in Scranton Times on Sept. 7, 2013