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Former Certified Grocers CEO Dies At 85

Everett William Dingwell II
Everett Dingwell

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:10 am

Mr. Everett William Dingwell II, who served as president and CEO of Certified Grocers—now Unified Grocers—died April 11 at his home in Sacramento, California, surrounded by family. He was 85.

Mr. Dingwell was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, to Everett and Esther (Van Scoyoc) Dingwell. He was the oldest of five children. When he was 9, his family traveled by train to California and settled in Lakewood. In 1949, Mr. Dingwell graduated from Excelsior High School, where he was known by his childhood nickname “Sparky.”

In 1954, he began his career at wholesale grocery cooperative Certified Grocers of California. Mr. Dingwell’s first job there was unloading boxcars on the rail docks. He soon moved to the warehouse and was promoted to general merchandise and then dry grocery buyer. In 1962, he left Certified to pursue sales management positions at other food operations.

Mr. Dingell married Lenny in 1967, and he returned to Certified in 1968, advancing through a number of management positions. He loved his work and always arrived at the office by 5 a.m. His sense of humor and talent for storytelling made him a popular public speaker. In 1988, Mr. Dingwell became president of Certified’s Northern California division. In 1990, he was elected president and CEO of Certified Grocers. He retired in 1995, having worked at the company for 35 years. He spent the next 14 years in semi-retirement, operating the Everett W. Dingwell Co., a food brokerage he ran with his son John.

During his more than five decades in the grocery business, Mr. Dingwell developed deep friendships with people across the industry and was a mentor to many, according to his obituary. He respected people who worked hard, valued loyalty and maintained these friendships throughout his life.

Mr. Dingwell and his wife’s home was the center of celebrations for their family and friends. He loved to travel and took many trips with his family all over the world. Mr. Dingwell and his wife frequently made month-long driving trips across Europe, and were most passionate about Italy. He was an avid reader and history buff, enjoyed exploring small towns on foot, always keeping an eye out for small, aromatic restaurants favored by locals.

In 2009, Mr. Dingwell and his wife moved to Sacramento to enjoy son Michael, daughter Dawn and their grandchildren. As residents of a lakeside retirement community, they made many close friends, enjoying parties and trips with their neighbors. Mr. Dingwell played poker twice a week with his “buddies.” He loved being a grandpa, and was always in the front row at his grandchildren’s sporting events and school performances. Mr. Dingwell and his wife were looking forward to celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in November.

“Their love and affection for one another was extraordinary and an inspiration to all who knew them,” his obituary says. “Their love affair continued even as Everett’s health began to falter early this year due to complications from COPD. Everett led a robust life throughout his 85 years. He was a model of strength, wit and wisdom for the entire family until the end.”

In addition to his wife Lenny, Mr. Dingwell is survived by sons John and Michael Dingwell; daughter Dawn Collier; brother Donald Dingwell; sisters Judy Nelson (Jim) and Sherry Spurlock (Jim); grandchildren Ethan (Kelly), Kyle and Emily Dingwell, and Eden, James and Mercy Collier; great-granddaughter Colby Ann Dingwell; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his granddaughter Hannah Dingwell and brother Douglas Dingwell.

A private memorial service was held May 13 in Southern California. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Lung Association and Smile Train.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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