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JoDee Herschend dies at 74

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Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. co-owner JoDee Herschend died Nov. 25 after being diagnosed with cancer nearly a quarter of a century earlier. She was 74.

Herschend was married to HFE Corp. co-founder Peter Herschend, and in 1997 she founded The Caring People, a nonprofit based in Branson.

While a student at Missouri State University in the early 1960s, JoDee met Peter while the two were working at HFE Corp.’s Silver Dollar City, according to an obituary provided by SDC.

“Their street performances led to true love and eventually marriage,” the obituary reads. “Over the next 50-plus years, they worked together to build Herschend Enterprises and raise five children.”

Herschend Enterprises Inc. was the previous name of HFE Corp., according to Missouri secretary of state records. The company’s holdings include Dollywood, White Water, the Showboat Branson Belle, Stone Mountain Park and the Harlem Globetrotters.

JoDee’s Caring People nonprofit mentors single moms in a small group ministry model, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. It has since grown to serve single moms in more than 30 locations in four states and in Central America.

With her husband, JoDee also helped establish Branson drug rehabilitation center Sigma House and Ozarks Food Harvest, according to the obituary.

The Herschend family has scheduled a celebration of her life at 11 a.m. Dec. 3 at James River Church in Ozark.

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