Theo Derd ventured across the Pacific Ocean in search of wealth and prosperity. With his wife and infant son, Stanley, in tow, he stepped off the boat into a coastal Virginia town and took a job cleaning floors at the Original Tobacco Company. Every night he was the last one to leave, and with a cigarette in his hand, he took the long walk back to the one-bedroom apartment where his family slept.
One night Theo decided to take a shortcut through the local park and walked past a gray-haired man sitting on the bench under a street lamp. He was reading the newspaper. The walk through the park became Theo’s regular route home after that night. The gray-haired man was always there and eventually, the two men became friends.
Theo would talk about his day at the factory and his thoughts on how he would run the Original Tobacco Company if it were his own. The grey-haired man never said much. He just sat and listened.
Five years later, Theo lit his usual cigarette before his nightly walk home, but when he came to the bench underneath the street lamp, the old man wasn’t there. The next morning at work he learned that the owner of the Original Tobacco Company had passed away and was shocked when he was called into the big corporate office.
It turns out, the gray-haired man on the bench was Therman Roundhouse, the sole owner of the Original Tobacco Company. In his will, much to his children’s dismay, he left the Original Tobacco Company to Theo Derd.
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Image of the Original Tobacco Company factory, the day it became StanDerd Tobacco, Co. • Somewhere, Virginia • May 11, 1929.
Theo Derd stepped into his new role as the owner of the Original Tobacco Company in 1929. With a new era, came a new name. He wanted to leave a legacy for his only son and give back to the community that welcomed his family as their own all those years ago. On May 11, 1929, the Original Tobacco Company officially became StanDerd Tobacco, Co.
For the next twenty-five years Theo Derd ran StanDerd Tobacco, Co. just as he said he would on the bench in that park. His plans for the company were so successful that his beloved town became a haven for more development. Both businesses and people flocked to the area where, unlike Therman, Theo was well-known. He was always seen around the community with a cigarette in one hand and lending help with the other.
Before Theo’s death in 1954, he brought the two things he had always dreamed of to the community – wealth and prosperity. He ventured into real estate, renamed the local park after Therman Roundhouse, and appointed his son Stanley as the CEO of StanDerd Tobacco, Co. at the ripe age of thirty-two. Stanley would continue to grow his father’s legacy.
A retired magnate of the tobacco industry, Stanley A. Derd, and namesake of the StanDerd Tobacco, Co. is the last surviving member of the company estate, with no family or kids of his own to inherit the family business.
Stanley Derd was the last surviving member of the company estate. Having spent most of his primal years married to the business, his only confidant was his butler who on his 50th birthday convinced him to take a break from the everyday grind and enjoy life for a while.
Stanley headed off on an epic adventure of travel. It was during this time that he discovered a love for art. Knowing nothing other than the tobacco industry he’d been immersed in most of his life, he found inspiration with every cigarette he lit. He painted in Paris, Rome, London, and hundreds of other cities during his travels leaving each signed creation hidden under a bench for others to someday find. He hoped that for those who discovered his art it would be a reminder to enjoy life to its fullest.
Stanley named his collection of drawings and attached only one of his original works of art to a note he sent to his butler back home. In the note, Stanley revealed the name of his mysterious art collection – Buttheads. Stanley also explained that he was taking an unspecified sabbatical to continue his artistic adventure and should anyone come to StanDerd Tobacco, Co. with his art in their hands they should be welcomed in as an official member of the Buttheads Club.
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