Living his legacy
story by Dorothy Edwards
At 90 years old, Herman Alles shuffles through the front door every day knowing he is the last of his family to own Alles Brothers Furniture Co., which his family founded in 1860 and his father, Jacob, moved to Henderson in 1899.
Jacob told his son to work hard for what he wanted, and Herman has carried that advice through his lifelong career as a businessman. “I go through life, never borrowed money from no one,” he said, taking pride that he has always managed his own finances.
Herman spends most of his time now sitting in the store's back corner office typing up orders on a 40-year-old electric typewriter.
“He wishes he could get back out and work the floor,” Patty Payne said about her boss of 20 years. He was once a gifted salesman, she said.
Employees say he is a good boss, and that's one reason some of them have been there for decades. Maggie Townsend, 82, has worked for Herman for 28 years. “We have birthdays and such for him; it’s kinda a second family,” she said.
Neither Herman nor his sister, Mary Frances, 92, can live by themselves. They suffer from a hereditary condition that has left many elderly members of their family with hunched backs. Caregivers visit them daily.
“I am so happy to have these ladies from church," Mary Frances said. "They have been so good to us.”
When Mary Frances’ health began to decline, Herman moved into her house from his own next door. “Some days she does better than others,” Herman said of his sister.
Herman spends most of his spare time gardening from his power chair. His yard is covered with a vast variety of flowers.
“I like to garden,” he said. “I can sit in my chair and all my aches and pains go away.”