ABINGDON, Va. — Funeral services were pending late last week for Jack C. Smith, the 81-year-old chairman and founder of K-VA-T Foods, who died Thursday after a brief illness. Smith opened his first store in 1955 — an 8,800-square-foot Piggly Wiggly — in Grundy, Va., in partnership with his father and cousin, and had built it to an 11-store operation by 1984, when he struck out on his own to open stores under the Food City banner. When the company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005, his son, Steve Smith, president and chief executive officer, said the company had lasted that long “because Dad has such a passion for the business, plus he's invested a lot of teaching and education in people. This is his life, and he loves it.” K-VA-T operates 95 stores with a volume of $1.6 billion. In addition to his son, Smith is survived by two daughters and six grandchildren.