Stater Bros. Chair Jack Brown Dies at 78

Jack H. Brown, executive chairman and longtime CEO of Stater Bros. Markets, passed away surrounded by his family on Nov. 13. He was 78.

A native of San Bernardino, Calif., Brown began his supermarket career as a box boy at Berk's Market Spot in San Bernardino at 13, sparking a 65-year career in the grocery industry. He was passionate about the industry, loving his “family” of employees and loyal customers whom he proudly served after taking the helm at the San Bernardino-based grocer.

Brown joined Stater Bros. in 1981, serving as president and CEO for more than 35 years and as chairman for more than 30 years. Affectionately known as “Our Jack,” he became executive chairman after appointing Pete Van Helden to the position of president and CEO earlier this year.

“Grief is not a strong enough word to describe what the Stater Bros. 'family' feels,” Van Helden said of Brown's passing. “Jack touched every one of us in a very personal way, and it is that legacy that we must carry forward. He loved the business, his company and each one of us.”

Brown was a Navy veteran who served on active duty with the Pacific Fleet of the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. In 2004, he received the Friend of the Veteran Award from the Riverside National Cemetery's Veterans' Advisory Committee for his continued support of volunteer services to veterans and their families. He was also honored with the Patriot Award in 2011, the highest award the Congressional Medal of Honor Society can bestow upon an individual, and was one of 10 distinguished Americans to receive the 1992 Horatio Alger Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to America and the American Dream.

For his contributions to the supermarket industry, Brown received countless awards, including the California Grocers Association's Hall of Achievement Award for a lifetime of dedication to the industry, and the prestigious Sidney R. Rabb Award in 2005. He also is known for his generosity in giving back to the communities he loved and served, establishing Stater Bros. Charities, the philanthropic arm of Stater Bros., in 2008 as a way to give back in a larger way. He also founded the Boys and Girls Club of San Bernardino and was the founding chairman of the Children's Fund of San Bernardino.

Most recently, the California State University Board of Trustees named the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration at California State University San Bernardino, in July.

Brown is survived by his wife, Debbie; three daughters: J. Kathleen Smith (Michael), Cara Hoffman (Scott) and Melissa Koss (Pete); and seven grandchildren: Kaitlyn, Colleen, Caden, Dylan, Julianna, Jack Ryan and Emma.

His burial will be private, with a memorial to follow at a later date.

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