Local entrepreneur, Patience Muffet, died in her home surrounded by friends and family on Wednesday. She was 93.
It was said of Ms. Muffet that she was so busy she never sat down, ever. Not that she had much reason to sit when she started her first business. At age 19, Ms. Muffet became the first woman in the state to be certified as an exterminator. Because no one would hire her, she started her own extermination business. Within ten years, and despite the unfair and often brutal tactics used by male competitors, she had 30 trucks and nearly 50 employees. The jingle, “Don’t tough it, call Muffet” was heard on radio and television throughout the state. When the company celebrated its 25th anniversary, it was the largest exterminator in seven states.
Then, abruptly it seemed, she turned the company over to a group of employees. In remembering this time, friends report that she said, “I started a company based on something I feared, spiders. Now I want to start a company based on something I love.”
It turned out that the thing Patience Muffet loved was cottage cheese. Muffet’s Dairy was no less successful than Muffet’s Extermination. Ms. Muffet became an advocate for local cottage cheese long before buying local was in vogue. Although Muffet’s Dairy never expanded outside the region, her friends say she never tired of seeing her cottage cheese in the dairy section of local grocery stores.
She gave Muffet’s Dairy another 25 years before she retired. Even as a retiree she could not sit still and took up the unlikely hobby of making footstools for friends. She is survived by her brother John, 87, and her longtime friend and housemate, Mary, 88.