Former Permanex boss dies, aged 87

WARREN Cherry, who with his wife Esther, ran Permanex, at one time the largest employer in St Ives, has died aged 87. Mr Cherry, an American serviceman, born in Texas, settled in Hemingford Grey after the Second World War, and lived there in Grey Hall for

WARREN Cherry, who with his wife Esther, ran Permanex, at one time the largest employer in St Ives, has died aged 87.

Mr Cherry, an American serviceman, born in Texas, settled in Hemingford Grey after the Second World War, and lived there in Grey Hall for about 40 years.

He and his wife ran Permanex Ltd, a plastics moulding, toolmaking and copper coil plant on Ramsey Road and The Waits.

Mr Cherry was born in Pecan Gap in 1920, one of six siblings. He lost his mother when still a child and worked on family farms in north Texas and Oklahoma during the infamous dust bowl era of the Great Depression.


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He enlisted in the US Army aged 17 in 1938. He served as a machine gunner, transporting his weapons on the backs of mules in the 2nd Infantry Division. During the Second World War in 1944, he was involved in Operation Iceberg, the amphibious invasion of the Pacific island of Okinawa with the 10th US Army.

At Okinawa, the US Navy lost the most sailors and ships in a single battle in its history. More than 250,000 people, Japanese, Okinawan and Allied Forces, died in the 82-day campaign.

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After the Allied victory in Japan and the Pacific, Technical Sergeant Cherry, his first wife Mollie, step-daughter Jacquelyn and daughter Dollie were stationed at Tachikawa Air base near Tokyo.

When the US Air Force was formed in the late 1940s, Mr Cherry joined as a heavy construction equipment operator and trained to build airfield runways and roads. He was assigned to Saudi Arabia in the mid 1950s and helped build the runways for the Dhahran airfields that were used 34 years later by the American and British forces in the first Gulf War in 1991.

In 1958, Master Sergeant Cherry was assigned to RAF Lakenheath. He and Mollie were divorced some years before and he married Esther Campion after his retirement in 1961.

After the death of Esther in 1997 and the onset of his Parkinson's disease, Mr Cherry's daughter, Dollie and her husband, American Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Fagan moved from the States to Hemingford Grey to look after him. In 2005, the family returned to America with Mr Cherry so he could be near his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Madison, Alabama.

Warren Cherry is survived by his daughter by Mollie, his first wife, Dollie Fagan, her husband, Dudley, their children and grandchildren.

Mr Cherry died on Friday, August 17 in the United States. A funeral mass will be held for him at the Church of the Sacred Heart in St Ives on Wednesday, October 17 at 10am.

His ashes will then be buried in Broadleas Cemetery where Esther is buried. The family has requested no flowers but donations if wished to the church or to charities for research into heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

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