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Benjamin "Ben" Schwartz (1937-2020), Grocery Industry Executive & Visionary

This month, WeRelate looks at the Person Page of Benjamin "Ben" Schwartz, born 8 July 1917, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Max Schwartz (1890-1971) and his first wife Sarah "Sara" Lipshutz (abt. 1890-1920), both immigrants from Russia. Ben's father Max owned a corner grocery store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved the family prior to 1922 to Southern California. On 27 September 1939, Ben Schwartz married Sarah Francis "Sara" Dworkin in California [California Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1849-1980]. They lived in Boyle Heights for several years. Prior to 1940, Ben had moved his way up to Manager in his father's Retail Grocery Store as he was listed in the 1940 U.S. Census.

Ben and his older brother Abraham "Abe" would work together to build their father's grocery store into a well-known and respected family supermarket business, which later grew into a popular 16-store chain called "Foods Co.", which would come to be known as one of the most innovative retail companies in Southern California. It regularly featured some of the newest ideas in the grocery business—thanks largely to Ben Schwartz, who traveled around the world in search of new products, services and selling techniques that he could implement in his stores. Ben worked his way up to Vice President and later President of Foods Co.

When Foods Co. was sold in 1987, Schwartz got on board with his former company’s wholesaler, Certified Grocers, as a consultant. It goes without saying that he knew the business. Ben shared his knowledge of the grocery industry with many, he taught retail classes at UCLA and frequently served as a guest speaker for many food industry organizations throughout his career.

Ben Schwartz served as a Director of Certified Grocers of California for more than 40 years, including four years as chairman. He also worked for the grocery industry at the national level by serving in leadership positions for many years at the Food Marketing Institute and several national retail and wholesale associations that preceded it. In 1986, FMI recognized Schwartz with its Sidney R. Rabb Award for excellence in serving the consumer, the community and the industry. Unified Grocers [formerly Certified Grocers, which was later acquired by Supervalu] honored Schwartz in 2005 by naming an annual retailer of the year award after him. Every year since, the “Ben Schwartz Retail Grocery Visionary Award” has been given to an independent retail grocer or grocery company that best embodies Schwartz’s innovative spirit and inspires others to think and act creatively and with passion in the grocery field. A duplicate of the “Ben Schwartz Retail Grocer Visionary Award” was on permanent display in the lobby of Supervalu’s Commerce, California, offices.

Ben Schwartz passed away peacefully on October 1, 2020 at age 103. Ben was a loving husband [his wife Sara pre-deceased him in 2010], father to son Bill and daughter Candy, grandfather and great-grandfather. Ben was a model of integrity, principles and values, and was an exceptionally kind and generous person. His contributions to the grocery industry are many; he was a friend and mentor to many and will never be forgotten. This Person Page, is a good example of the type of Page that you can add to WeRelate for your ancestors. (learn more...)

WeRelate is a free public-service wiki for genealogy sponsored by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy formerly in partnership with the Allen County Public Library. It has pages for over 2,960,000 people and growing. WeRelate is supported by volunteers and your tax-deductible donations.

NOTE: New date edits were implemented 6 Oct 2020. See WeRelate:Suggestions/Format Date Field for more information.

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Crowdsourcing Challenge

This month commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, thousands of courageous Americans and British forces stormed the beaches of Normandy giving their lives in service of their countries. This Allied invasion of France would lead to the end of World War II one year later. One American solider, First Lieutenant James McCaul Jr, father of US Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, served as a bombardier on a B-17 whose squadron participated in the D-Day air campaign.

You can read more about this month's WeRelate Crowdsourcing Challenge and help in bringing details of his life here in WeRelate. Have fun.