Melrose–Jerry Primus had a hand in planning for the new Jennie-O Turkey Store plant in Melrose. 

Now the road leading into the facility bears his name.

“Primus Way” was dedicated Aug. 29, a surprise to Jerry’s wife, Ann Marie, who was surrounded by Primus family members, including their children Ruth and Jason; Jerry’s parents Catherine and Joe; his four brothers, Rich, Virgil, Dale and Melvin; their spouses and Jerry’s nieces and nephews—most who knew about the surprise. 

Jerry worked at the downtown Jennie-O facility for 45 years, starting at entry level, working his way up to plant manager and retiring in 2017. He passed away Jan. 25, 2018, following an automobile accident. 

Plant manager Jason Reuss made the announcement, holding the green sign with white lettering in front of the Primus family, a surprised look on Ann Primus’ face. He talked about the dedication Jerry had to Jennie-O during his years of employment, the last 15 as plant manager. It was during Jerry’s first years at Jennie-O that he met Ann Marie and the two married. 

Jennie-O employee Ana Santana’s memories of Jerry brought laughter. She shared how Jerry always picked up pennies. One time a penny was glued to the floor and he “yank” it off the floor and put it in his pocket.  

“He tried to whistle but all he did was blow hot air. And when he was whistling, he was deep in thought and you didn’t ask him questions. He was unable to keep a tune and it was our way of knowing he was coming,” said Santana. “If you had a problem he would listen even if he couldn’t fix the problem. His laughter was heard throughout the room and the plant.” 

He was never afraid to speak his mind, and he always had a friend in his back pocket in every department. 

Santana repeated a few of Jerry’s favorite sayings, “A leopard never changes its spots,” “Just between the three of us monkeys. It stays here,” and “You have to laugh once a day, laugh hard. It’s good for the soul and heart.”

Another of his favorites were Pepsi and Snickers candy bars, which were handed out on this afternoon. 

Bob Boeckemann, who worked with Jerry for 37 years, said this honor is so deserving. 

“Jerry gave his heart and soul to this company. This was his life, next to his family. He made decisions that were in the best interests of the company in his job as manager. If you would drive by Jennie-O on a Saturday morning, Jerry’s truck was here. If you would drive by on a Sunday morning Jerry’s truck was here,” said Boeckermann. 

Marge Mehr, Jennie-O nurse, said when she walked into the plant today there was a penny on the ground and she picked it up.

“Jerry’s with us today,” she said holding the penny up. 

Speaking for the family, Jerry’s son Jason thanked Jennie-O for this honor. 

“We will miss our great friend, leader and we are taking this time to remember him and hope all of you enjoy the ride into Primus Way,” said an emotion-filled Santana. 

Later that afternoon the “Primus Way” sign was put up at the entrance to Jennie-O Turkey Store. After grabbing a bite to eat, the Primus family drove by and there it was. 

“Now when I drive by, I suppose I gotta wave,” Jerry’s dad Joe said.