Food Lion Co-Founder, Ralph Ketner, Passes Away at Age 95

Food Lion Co-Founder, Ralph Ketner, Passes Away at Age 95

SALISBURY, NC - Food Lion Co-Founder Ralph Ketner passed away at 95 years of age this past Sunday, leaving behind him a legacy of building the now 1,100 store Food Lion chain.

Ralph Ketner, Co-Founder, Food LionStarting in 1957, Ketner opened his first Food Town grocery store in Salisbury, N.C., cold-calling people right out of the phone book and asking for as small as $50 or $100 investments with the help of his brother, Brown Ketner, and Wilson Smith. The 125 people who gave the team their investment ended up with about $1 million, according to Food Lion. 

"He had a profound and lasting impact on the entire grocery industry and he has left a tremendous legacy not only at Food Lion, but through his philanthropy and kindness in the Salisbury community as a whole,” the company shared in a statement. “Forever a welcome and vital part of our family, even at 95 years old, Mr. Ketner still attended several Food Lion events. Our associates adored and respected him and we will miss him dearly.”

Ketner was an integral part of the idea, “lowest food prices in North Carolina” or “LFPINC.” According to the Charlotte Observer, sales skyrocketed following the plan's implementation, from $5 million to $7.2 billion in 25 years. 

While Ketner retired from the grocery chain in the early 1990s, he has served as both a member of the board of trustees and an adjunct professor of the Ketner School of Business at Catawba College. 

The Charlotte Observer estimates that Ketner has donated 35 percent of his net worth to various charities over the years, donating $1 million in 2011 to help pay for an upgrade at a Queens University of Charlotte auditorium that bears his name. His philanthropy also benefited the Levine Center, a health and wellness center on the Queens campus. 

The Salisbury Post reports that services will be held on Sunday, June 5, 2:30 p.m., at Keppel Auditorium on the Catawba College campus.

The AndNowUKnow team would like to extend our deepest condolences to Ketner’s family, friends, and those affected by this loss.