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There are a number of family businesses in Cape Girardeau who roots go deep into the community. Among of the best-known of these thriving institutions are the Hecht's stores downtown, which are celebrating 80 years of fine women's fashions.

The Hecht story is one of a remarkable family that traces its roots to Poland. In the intervening years, the family enterprise has grown to five stores in downtown Cape Girardeau plus additional upscale shops in Carbondale, Ill., and Paducah, Ky. Along the way, the family has gained national and international acclaim as well.

One of the Hechts, Jacob "Chic" Hecht, served as a U.S. senator from Nevada and later was ambassador to the Bahamas. In 1981, the Hecht family realized a long-held dream of establishing a synagogue at the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an institution of learning with which the family has had a long association.

Many folks in this area will remember Louis Hecht, founder of the store here, for his long and earnest involvement in community and civic enterprises. They will recall his ardent devotion to his nation and to the cause of Jews seeking to flee the terrible consequences of the Holocaust. He and other Jewish residents of Cape Girardeau were instrumental in helping Jews escape from Germany and to relocate in this area.

Today, Martin and "Tootie" Hecht continue to guide the stores and work with many organizations here and around the globe. On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of Hecht's Store, we wish them well and thank them for their devotion to this community and its well-being.