Donald E. Becker, executive vice president of the Kroger Co., died suddenly Wednesday in Cincinnati at age 62 after suffering an aneurysm.
“We are deeply saddened to lose Don, our dear friend and extraordinary leader,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “Don leaves a legacy of enthusiasm and passion for doing what’s right for our customers and our associates. He touched the lives of countless people in our company as well as throughout our industry and community. He was a true ‘people person’ who mentored many associates at every level of our business."
Throughout his career, Becker helped Kroger strengthen relationships with customers and suppliers alike. “He was an innovative leader who led our merchandising and procurement teams through great expansion and change,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s president and COO. “Don’s deep industry knowledge and strong leadership skills engaged and inspired those around him. He was a great teacher and friend who was also eager to learn from others. We will all miss him deeply.”
Becker joined Kroger in 1969 as a clerk in the Cincinnati/Dayton Division. During his career, he held a number of leadership positions, including VP of the Cincinnati/Dayton Division and president of the Central Division. He was promoted to senior VP in 2000 and to executive VP in 2004. In his role as executive VP, Becker led the company’s merchandising and procurement for grocery, perishables, drug/GM and pharmacy. He also had responsibility for advertising, consumer research and customer loyalty; manufacturing and corporate brands; customer insights and strategy; supply chain; and supplier diversity. The Cincinnati/Dayton Division and the Little Clinic also reported to Becker. He also served as co-chairman of Kroger’s first General Office Cultural Council.
Becker earned an undergraduate degree from Central State University and graduated first in his Army ROTC Honors program. He retired from his military service with the rank of captain.
Becker's survivors include his wife, Lynn; daughter, Mackenzie; son-in-law, C.J.; and grandson, Becker. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,461 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.