Jack Brown, the head of Stater Bros. for more than three decades who grew the Southern California grocery chain to $4.5 billion in annual sales, has died, the company announced. He was 78.
Officials announced that Brown died Sunday, but didn't state the cause or location.
"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," Stater Bros. President and CEO Pete Van Helden said in a statement.
Brown joined the San Bernardino-based chain in 1981 and served as president and chief executive for more than 35 years. He stepped down as CEO last year and took the role of executive chairman.
Under Brown, the company grew to 169 stores with gross sales last year reaching $4.5 billion, the Sun newspaper reported Monday.
The San Bernardino native was known for charitable work on behalf of his hometown. He guided more than half a million dollars in cash donations and hundreds of thousands of pounds in food donations to the Salvation Army, said Maj. Dan Henderson, who leads charity's San Bernardino office.
"We couldn't do what we do without them," Henderson told the newspaper.
As chairman of Stater Bros. Charities, Brown honored San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan and the department's first responders in March with an award and a $50,000 cash donation for their heroism during the city's Dec. 2 terrorist attack.
Brown was a founder of the Boys and Girls Club of San Bernardino and the founding chairman of Children's Fund of San Bernardino County.
A Navy veteran, Brown served with the Pacific Fleet during the Vietnam era and decorated Stater Bros. corporate offices with military memorabilia.
In 2004, he received the Friend of the Veteran Award from the Riverside National Cemetery Veterans' Advisory Committee for his support of volunteer services to veterans and their families.
Brown is survived by his wife, three daughters and seven grandchildren.