OMAHA, Neb. -- Funeral services have been held here for Abe Baker, founder of Baker's Supermarkets here.
son, Jack Baker, is chairman and chief executive officer of Baker's, and his grandson, Tom Baker, is director of associate support (human resources).
"He loved the business," Jack Baker said. "He loved being in the stores, and he constantly chided all of us to be on the floor and not to spend time in our offices."
According to Baker, his father once told him, "The customer signs our paychecks. We're really in the people business -- we just happen to sell groceries."
Baker's operates 22 stores in Nebraska and Oklahoma, with annual sales approaching $500 million. According to observers, its Omaha market share of 40% is the largest in the city.
Baker, born in Russia in 1903, emigrated with his parents to Sioux City, Iowa, in 1906.
He opened his first store -- Walnut Fruit and Grocery -- in Walnut, Iowa, in 1927. Over the next 20 years Baker opened three more stores in Iowa before opening his first store in Nebraska in 1947.
The company grew slowly, with nine stores in operation at the time it was sold to Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, in 1992. In 1994 Baker's acquired five locally based stores, and in 1997 it expanded to Oklahoma with the addition of five stores, mostly in the Oklahoma City marketing area.
Baker retired about 10 years ago. He received the Omaha Rotary Club's Free Enterprise Person of the Year Award in 1988 and was inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame in 1995.
Baker is survived by two sons, a daughter, a sister, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.