Charles “Chuck” Fry, co-founder of Fry’s Food Stores, now a subsidiary of The Kroger Co., has passed away at age 92.
Fry died in his sleep on Jan. 20 at his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz. He and his older brother Don, who died in 2006, started Fry’s Food Stores in Richmond, Calif., in 1955 and then in 1960 expanded into Arizona, where the Tolleson, Ariz.-based grocery chain now has 122 supermarkets.
Charles Fry (photo courtesy of The Fry Family)
"The Kroger Co. and Fry’s Food Stores are saddened to hear of the recent passing of Charles ‘Chuck’ Fry on Jan. 20, 2020. Chuck was a visionary in the grocery industry and an inspiration to those around him,” Mike Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Kroger, said in a statement. “Fry’s became a market leader in the area’s competitive grocery market, with a strong reputation for quality and fresh products that continues today.”
Fry’s was acquired by Dillon Cos. in 1972, and Charles Fry joined Dillons board of directors. Two-and-a-half years later, he returned to Fry’s as president and oversaw all of the retailer’s stores. Then in 1983, Cincinnati-based Kroger purchased Dillon Cos., bringing the Fry’s banner into a national chain. Fry retired the same year. His sons John, Randy and David used the proceeds from the sale to launch Fry's Electronics, a consumer electronics chain unaffiliated with the grocery banner, in 1985.
Later on, when Kroger and Fred Meyer merged in 1998, most of the latter’s Smith’s Food & Drug stores in Arizona were rebranded as Fry’s locations.
“We honor Chuck for his dedication to associates and commitment to customer service. His passion and hard work laid the foundation of Fry’s Food Stores,” Donnelly added.
Fry is survived by his wife of 68 years, Alice, as well as his three sons, 10 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. His memorial service is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27, at Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay Area where Fry’s Food Stores got its start.