HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- Ray E. Dillon, a former chairman of Dillon Cos. here, died Feb. 15. He was 98.
along with his two sons, Ray Jr. and Richard, and a nephew, Paul.
During his 60-year career, which included terms as president of the Super Market Institute -- the precursor of the Food Marketing Institute, Washington -- in 1953 and 1955, he witnessed the growth of the supermarket business from the local general store to today's superstores.
He entered the supermarket business in 1918, returning from overseas duty in World War I to join his father, J.S. Dillon, and a brother, Clyde, in the grocery business. Their company was incorporated in May 1921 as J.S. Dillon & Sons Stores Co., based here. J.S. Dillon retired in June 1924, and Ray Dillon was named president. By the end of the decade, the chain had grown to 15 stores in 10 Kansas towns.
Now a subsidiary of Kroger Co., Cincinnati, Dillon Cos. has more than 200 stores under such names as Dillon Food Stores, Fry's, King Soopers and City Market.
A great uncle of David Dillon, Kroger's president and chief operating officer, Ray Dillon is survived by two sons, four brothers, a sister, six grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. His wife, Stella, died in 1986.