Henry Arnold Dreyer, Jr. Proud farmer, a ‘gentle giant of a man,’ co-owner of Dreyer Farms in Cranford, served as mayor of Cranford Henry Arnold Dreyer, Jr., 72, who co-owned the legendary Dreyer Farms in Cranford, NJ, died December 4, 2015, in Overlook Medical Center, Summit, NJ.
At an early age, Henry and his brother, John, joined their parents, the late Henry Sr. and Henrietta, in working at the now century-old farm on Springfield Avenue in Cranford. Thanks to Henry’s broad knowledge and love of agriculture, Union County residents have been faithfully buying their plants, fruits, and vegetables there for four generations. Henry Dreyer was especially proud of the quality of the chrysanthemums he produced by the thousands in the farm’s numerous greenhouses. Many of the chrysanthemums were bought for large displays at the World Trade Center and Rockefeller Center. Friends fondly recall how Henry spent months before Christmas making countless bows by hand, which adorned wreaths and other holiday decorations sold at the farm. John Dreyer, whose daughter, Jessica Dreyer Costello, is deeply involved in the farm’s recent expansion into new consumer service areas, said of his brother, “Farming was Henry’s life. He totally enjoyed what he was doing and was proud to be a farmer during the times when being a farmer wasn’t as cool as it is today.”
Born in Elizabeth, NJ, Henry Dreyer spent virtually all of his life in Cranford, and served the community as a township committeeman for several years before being elected to a one-year term as mayor in 1980. Tom O’Brien, a close friend who served as political campaign manager during those years, observed, “Henry was a gentle giant of a man who was a true son of Cranford. He will be remembered for his wit, wisdom, and judgment. He was especially supportive of young people through their rite of passage into adulthood.” During the off season, Henry and his wife, Carol, enjoyed vacationing at their home in Longboat Key, FL, for many years. “Henry cherished those moments when we sat on the lanai having margaritas and watching the sunset,” she said. Henry’s involvement in agriculture and politics led to service on boards of many groups, including the Cranford Planning Board, New Jersey Soil Conservation Committee, Union County Board of Agriculture, New Jersey Farm Bureau, and the United Counties Trust (now Wells Fargo).
A Cranford High School graduate, Henry received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Gettysburg College and was a life member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He also did graduate work at East Stroudsburg University. In addition to his wife, Carol Bernard Dreyer, Henry is survived by two sons, Henry A. III and Brett B. and his wife, Nicole; three grandchildren, Shea, Ava, and Teddy Dreyer; and his brother, John Dreyer and his wife, Martha, and their two daughters. He was predeceased by his son Henry’s wife, Deirdre O’Connor Dreyer. Contributions in Henry’s memory may be made to the Sarcoma Foundation of America.