Last updated on April 7th, 2017 at 02:26 pm
Mr. Earl Redner, the founder of Redner’s Markets, died April 5 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was 91.
Born in Bridgewater, Virginia, on Sept. 19, 1925, to the late William and Gladys Redner, Mr. Redner began his career in the food industry in 1940 as a furnace stoker and potato bagger with the Grand Union Tea Co. He spent the next 29 years working for Grand Union in various positions, including assistant store manager, district sales manager, division grocery sales manager and superintendent of stores in Washington, D.C. He was the youngest Grand Union employee to hold the title of manager, district manager and store superintendent until his departure in 1970. During 20 years of leadership with Redner’s, he set a standard for customer service and placed an emphasis on advanced technologies as an independently owned, industry leader in groceries.
Mr. Redner, known to be an early innovator with employee-owned stock option companies and a risk taker in food retailing, founded Redner’s Markets in Leesport, Pennsylvania, in 1970 with his late wife, Mary. Under his leadership, Redner’s successfully changed the grocery marketplace by transitioning a traditional grocery operation to that of a warehouse market sales and purchasing format, which was years ahead of its time. Today, Redner’s has more than 53 grocery and convenience stores in eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Redner’s has annually ranked in the top five (total sales) of independently owned (small chain) grocers in the U.S.
Mr. Redner served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and on the board of the National Grocers Association. He and Mary were honored in 1998 with the Heart of the Industry Award by the Grocery Manufacturers of Central Pennsylvania and, in 2011, recognized as Person of the Year by Association of Manufacturer Representatives and the Mid-Atlantic Food Trades Organization.
A humble leader, Mr. Redner will long be remembered for his notebook that he carried with him during each workday. Admired by all at Redner’s, his presence will be greatly missed in the family business, according to his obituary.
“My father was a role model for not only myself and our family but also the food industry. He lived a long, successful life and made a tremendous difference in the community,” said Richard Redner. “I’m thankful he was able to see his dream and company become more successful than he ever imagined. His spirit and enthusiasm remained high and he continued to attend board meetings, visit stores and would enjoy speaking with our employee-owners often.”
Mr. Redner also was active as a community booster and philanthropist. He was a longtime member of the Shillington Rotary Club and was an active member in the Church of the Brethren of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, where he served as a deacon.
Mr. Redner had a zest for life. For years he was a private pilot, at times delivering produce to Redner’s stores via air. He loved to travel, especially to visit the Holy Land and China; hunting was a favorite pastime; and he exercised throughout his life. In recent years he enjoyed bowling, last participating two weeks ago.
Mr. Redner is preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Mary G. Redner; son, Gary W. Redner; brothers, Raymond, Frank and Charles; and sister, June.
He is survived by his wife, Karen of Lancaster; son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Elaine Redner of Sinking Spring; daughter, Chere Kelley of Charleston, South Carolina; six grandchildren, Ryan Redner, Stacy Hopp, Gary M. Redner, Casey Redner, Nicole Hoyt and Alexis Foreman; 14 great-grandchildren; and sister, Ruth Weyant.
A viewing will be held from 4-8 p.m. Monday, April 10, at Edward J. Kuhn Funeral Home in West Reading and from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, April 11, at Wyomissing Church of the Brethren, 2200 State Hill Road, Wyomissing. Services will begin at 11 a.m., with burial to follow in Leesport Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Wyomissing Church of the Brethren.