SALISBURY, N.C. — Wilson Smith, a co-founder of the Food Lion chain, based here, died Wednesday, April 20, at age 93, according to reports.
Smith partnered with two brothers, Ralph Ketner and Brown Ketner, who he had worked with at Winn-Dixie, to open the first Food Town together in 1957. The name was later changed to Food Lion.
Smith retired after growing the chain, now owned by Brussels-based Delhaize Group, in the 1970s when it had grown to 100 stores, according to a report in the Salisbury Post.
Other than military service, Smith had been in the grocery business his whole life — delivering groceries in a wagon as a child from Pickler's Grocery, he told the Post in a past interview.
Ralph Ketner, 90, remains the sole surviving founder of the Food Lion chain, which now numbers some 1,300 locations under multiple banners. Brown Ketner died in 1994.
Smith is succeeded by his wife, Evelyeen, sons Ronnie and Tim and two grandchildren.