NEW YORK (PIX11) — Stew Leonard Sr., founder of the eponymous regional supermarket chain, has died at age 93.
Leonard died on Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City after a brief illness, the supermarket company said.
Leonard was born in 1929 in Norwalk, Connecticut, his obituary said. A graduate of Norwalk High School and the University of Connecticut’s School of Agriculture, Leonard first worked for his family’s dairy business at Clover Farms Dairy in Norwalk. He founded Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk in 1969, starting out with just seven employees.
Stew Leonard’s has grown to become a $600 million business with seven store locations in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, employing more than 2,500 people, according to the company.
The store Leonard founded in Norwalk also became known as the “World’s Largest Dairy store” by Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
However, Leonard’s success was tarnished by a prison sentence for tax fraud. He pleaded guilty in July 1993 to using a sophisticated computer program to skim $17.1 million off the store’s books and served 44 months in prison.
The supermarket chain is now run by Leonard’s son, Stew Leonard Jr., with the help of his siblings.
Leonard leaves behind his wife of 70 years, four children, and 13 grandchildren.