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Former Supervalu CEO McKay Dies At 96

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Longtime grocery man Mr. George William McKay Sr., who served as Supervalu’s CEO in the ’70s, died Wednesday at his home in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was 96.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 300 West Wayne St., with visitation one hour prior to the service.

George William McKay Sr.
George William McKay Sr.

Born March 14, 1917, in Fort Wayne, Mr. McKay was the son of William Thomson and Ruth Beers McKay. He graduated from Central High School in Fort Wayne and from Williams College, majoring in biology and foreign languages. He started working with G.E. Bursley and Co. in 1938 and married Barbara Stafford in 1940. After the U.S. was drawn in to World War II, Mr. McKay served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1946 until he was discharged as first lieutenant.

Back home in Fort Wayne, he became EVP of Bursley. In 1957, Bursley merged with Bluffton Grocery Co. to form Food Marketing. A year later, Mr. McKay was named president of Food Marketing. Supervalu acquired Food Marketing in 1963, which led to Mr. McKay’s moving to Minneapolis to become EVP of operations and later president and CEO of Supervalu in 1970. From 1973-1979, Mr. McKay was vice chairman of the board.

After his wife Barbara’s death, Mr. McKay married Nancy Kover Blackburn. After his retirement, he and Nancy moved back to Fort Wayne. In 1980, he and Don Murphy opened the first Cub supermarket in Indianapolis, which led to two more Cub stores in Indianapolis and two in Toledo, two County Markets in Terre Haute and seven Save-A-Lot grocery stores.

In addition to his six decades in the grocery business, Mr. McKay served on the board of directors for 20 years of NAWGA (National American Wholesale Grocery Association), including two terms as its chairman and president. He also was active in S.C.O.R.E., an organization of retired businessmen who help those who want to start a business. He was elected to Fort Wayne’s Business Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2013, Mr. McKay was honored by United Way of Allen County for his 75 years of giving to its organization.

Mr. McKay was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church where he was an elder and member of the board of trustees, Rotary Club (past president), Quest Club (50 years) and Fort Wayne Country Club (past president) where he enjoyed playing golf. Mr. McKay also enjoyed hunting and fishing and had many fond memories of trips with family and friends.

In addition to his first wife, Mr. McKay was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy; and sisters, Kate Walley and Marion Rastetter Walley.

Surviving are his three sons, Rusty (Patricia) of Indianapolis, Tad (Wendy) of Indian Wells, Calif., and George Jr. of Traverse City, Mich.; two step-daughters, Jean (Bill) Chandler of Olney, Ill., and Susan (David) Meyer of Fort Wayne; 12 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to First Presbyterian Church or Visiting Nurse Hospice Home, both in Fort Wayne.


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