Stew Leonard, founder of the famous grocery chain, dies aged 93


April 27, 2023 | 17:47

Stew Leonard, the founder of the famed Connecticut grocery chain that bore his name, died Wednesday at the age of 93.

The businessman succumbed to a “short illness”[ads1]; during his stay at Lenox Hill Hospital.

“Yesterday my father died at the age of 93-1/2 while holding my mother’s hand. They had been married for 70 years. I knew this day would come, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Just a month ago, he was swimming in a pool, said his son and successor, Stewie Leonard, Jr.

Leonard opened his first dairy store in his native Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1969 after serving as a milkman for his family’s dairy business for several years.

The 17,000-square-foot store—which originally had just eight items—earned the title of “World’s Largest Dairy Store” on Ripley’s Believe It or Not, as well as the place in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the highest dollar sales per square foot of retail space.

Leonard’s opened its second location in Connecticut in 1991 and continued to expand until the chain appeared across New York and New Jersey. There are seven locations in the three states.

Stew Leonard Sr. died Wednesday at the age of 93.
Stew Leonard’s

He received various honors throughout his life, including the 1986 Presidential Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence awarded to him by then-President Ronald Reagan.

The regional supermarket, valued at about $600 million, has enjoyed great success and was named one of FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” ten years in a row — through recently suffering a 50% blow to Bud Light sales amid in his controversial collaboration with Dylan Mulvaney.

Outside of running his $600 million business, Leonard was an avid outdoorsman and water skier. He won the North American Water Ski Championship in 1956 and set world and national records for trick water ski scores in 1959.

Stewie, Jr. said his father succumbed to a “short illness.”
Stew Leonard’s
Stew Leonard’s has seven stores across Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Leonard stepped down as CEO in 2014, leaving the board to his eldest son, Stewie.

He is survived by his wife, Marianne; children Stewie, Tom, Beth and Jill; 13 grandchildren; and over 2,200 employees.

“He always had an inspiring insight that gave hope and a brighter future. Boy, will I miss that!” Stewie wrote.

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