Lee Javitch, ‘Giant’ supermarket chain former chairman, dies at 81


Lee H. Javitch, who turned his father’s meat market into a supermarket chain of 30 stores and then sold it to an international conglomerate, died April 19 at 81.


Javitch was active in Jewish organizations and had been on the boards of Jewish Theological Seminary of America, MAZON: A Jewish Response for Hunger, and Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, where he did a stint as chairman.

Javitch turned Carlisle Meat Market of his hometown of Carlisle, Pa., into Giant Food Stores, a regional chain with a presence in the Mid-Atlantic region. The company, which was sold to Dutch supermarket holding company Koninklijke Ahold N.V. in 1981, now operates more than 180 stores. Ahold controls two unrelated chains with the Giant brand name.

Supermarket industry media took note of Javitch’s death and quoted current company president, Rick Herring, as saying Javitch “was an icon in the grocery industry.”

Bonnie Neidigh, Javitch’s secretary in the mid-1960s, said he had “incredible business acumen and insight into the changing world of the supermarket industry and began to grow the organization into the ‘giant’ that it is today.”

Herring said Lee “grew up in the grocery business from working in his father’s store.” He became president of Giant in 1968 and was chairman from 1979 to 1982.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Follow the Eulogizer on Twitter @TheEulogizer

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