In Memorium: Entrepreneurs Who Died in 2009

Dudley M. Brooks/TWP
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Ann Wilder, Co-founder of Vanns Spice

Dubbed the “Spice Queen,” Wilder was almost 50 when she found her calling. She was helping a friend teach some cooking classes and they began making herb and spice blends for their students. A bulk-spice vendor keyed Wilder into the commercial potential of obscure spices such as ajowan seed, grains of paradise, and powdered sumac. Wilder ultimately traveled the globe in search of quality growers and processors and she helped introduce innovations like an environmentally-friendly method for steam-cleaning spices. Among other customers, she made private-label products for Zabar's, Dean and DeLuca, and Martha Stewart.