Last updated on December 3rd, 2015 at 08:24 am
Mr. Robert (Bob) Stiles, who served as president of Southern California supermarket chain Gelson’s from 1996-2011, has died. He worked for the company for more than 51 years.
According to Gelson’s, Mr. Stiles started his career with the company in Burbank in 1960 as a grocery clerk, rising through the ranks before assuming the president’s role in 1996. He retired in early 2012.
Mr. Stiles was a “people person.” He had a way of making every person feel important and special. He was the type of leader who gave all the credit to his team and shunned the spotlight for himself. He was a great mentor, coach and friend to all, according to Gelson’s.
Mr. Stiles’ philosophy was that you should have fun at work—and he made it fun for all who had the privilege of working with him. He had a quick wit, and every day he would do or say something to bring a smile. He enjoyed what he did, and he enjoyed the people he worked with.
Mr. Stiles was a true visionary in the grocery business. He wanted Gelson’s stores to feel like a home so he added trend-setting features like indoor seating areas with fireplaces and televisions. His bold sense of style translated to the stores with award-winning décor, and his attention to detail in merchandising created stores that the competition tried to emulate.
“Gelson’s lost an important member of our family and an important part of our history,” the company says in a statement. “Bob will be missed, but his legacy will live on in our stores, in our people and in the Gelson’s way of doing business.”
There will not be a funeral service, per Mr. Stiles’ wishes, according to his wife Dawn. Mr. Stiles’ favorite cause was the Red Cross, and he always was supportive of the work undertaken by the City of Hope to fight cancer. Donations in his name can be made to those organizations.