Longtime beauty executive Herb Kelhoffer passed away on Monday at the age of 66, after a long illness.

Originally from Middletown, Ohio, Kelhoffer was most recently living in Trumbull, Conn., and had served as general manger of Quest Fine Fragrances, which was acquired by Givaudan in 2007.

“I can tell you that from the first moments working for Herb about 15 years ago after he hired me at Quest, he quickly became a dear mentor and good friend,” said Westly Morris, vice president of fine fragrance for Firmenich. “Herb was a great leader because he was very kind and generous, while at the same time being a strong mentor by empowering those around him to do what they thought was best in order to get the job done.”

During his career, Kelhoffer is credited with helping to grow companies, with a focus on selecting employees with strong work ethics.

“Herb liked to hire people who would be harder on themselves than he could ever be or would ever want to be on them, so therefore he prided himself on selecting the best talent and putting them into the right positions,” said Morris, who added that, despite his focus on hard work, Kelhoffer was also known for having a lighthearted side.

“His trademark was walking around the office with his shoes off. When you were in his office he always had his shoes off and feet up on the desk while he spoke with you. It was this disarming way about Herb that was certainly also part of his charm. He was one of a kind and I will miss him dearly.”

During his career, Kelhoffer held a number of senior positions on the commercial sides of beauty companies including Revlon, Dior and Clinique.

He received his Masters from Eastern Kentucky University and was a member of the Merchant Marines.

“We spent a lot of time working and traveling together, and were fishing buddies,” said Morris. “Even in times of adversity at work or with his personal health, Herb never let people see him sweat and always remained calm.”

He is survived by his wife, Judy, and sons Jack, Ted and Herb, as well as brothers Dan and Chuck. The funeral will take place at 11 a.m. on July 28 at Christ and Holy Trinity Church in Westport, Conn. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Cancer Society.

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