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Founder of Michigan-based Hungry Howie's pizza chain dies at 72

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The founder of a pizza company launched in Taylor 40 years ago has died. 

Jim Hearn started out in the hamburger business. That didn't suit him, so he switched to pizzas.

A decade later, he sold his first franchise  and Hungry Howie's eventually grew to more than 500 shops in 20 states.

Karessa Weir Wheeler of East Lansing is Hearn's niece. She says he was respected for his work ethic, but also appreciated for his sense of inclusion.

"All of his co-workers have really become family, says Hearn's niece, Karessa Weir Wheeler of East Lansing. "If you would go to his house for Christmas dinner, it wouldn't just be blood relatives. It was everybody in the Howie family would be there.

Hearn died in Florida this week. He was 72.