Richard E. Jennings, 65, president of Smithereen Pest Management Services, died Tuesday, May 17, the Chicago Tribune reports.
According to the Smithereen website, the company was founded in the 1880s by E.R. Jennings, a Chicago pharmaceutical salesman who read about how Turkish soldiers dusted their bodies with floral powder to protect themselves from lice and fleas.
The elder Jennings experimented and discovered a similar powder and became one of the country's first professional exterminators.
As the years progressed, Smithereen continued to develop new and revolutionary pesticides, and even introduced a new word that the company patented: "insecticides."
The company's ownership was handed down to the founder's son, H.E. Jennings, who became active in the war against malaria.
Mr. Jennings started his career at Smithereen at age 13 carrying supplies for service technicians. After graduating from Purdue University in 1968, he became the third generation of the Jennings family to lead the company.
He is credited for Smithereen's expansion as far south as Kankakee, to the west reaching beyond Joliet and east to Indiana.
Mr. Jennings passed ownership of the company and the possession of his Pied Piper to his son Jack Jennings.