A former meat cutter who built an innovative frozen-food business that provided jobs to thousands of immigrants in Maine’s largest city is dead at the age of 87.
Barber Foods founder Gus Barber died Friday at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
The son of Armenian immigrants, Barber grew his business from a kitchen-based operation to a company with a work force of 800.
He began by offering cut-up chicken parts and later shifted to stuffed chicken entrees such as chicken cordon bleu and chicken Kiev.
More than 40 percent of the company’s employees are immigrants, many of whom take English courses on-site.
Barber’s family said he had great empathy for the struggles faced by immigrants and sought to help them achieve a better life in America.
Barber retired in 2002 as chairman of the company’s board of directors.
He’s survived by his wife, Marjorie, and four children, all of whom are involved in the family business.