Fred Meijer was known as “Greenville's favorite son."
After all, that's where the store got its start and put the small town on the map.
Greenville is the birth place of a retail giant and its namesake. In 1934, Hendrik Meijer opened the family's first grocery store here in Greenville. Fourteen year old Frederick was a stock-boy.
“My dad worked in the cotton mills, he started at 12 years old at a penny an hour, American money,” Meijer said in a past interview. He helped his father turn the store into a chain which is now nearly 200 strong.
On Black Friday, a man from humble beginnings turned billionaire took his last breath. Lloyd Walker, former Greenville mayor says, “I thought, this is the end of an era. There will never be another Fred Meijer.”
Walker is also a long time friend of the Meijer family. “It`s a big loss for, not only his family, but it`s a big loss for the community,” Walker says. Members of the Greenville community shared their condolences at the local Meijer.
Customer Luella Ludlow says, “I always appreciated him because they run sales that we old people could afford to eat and I told him that one time.”
Former employee Steve Thomas says he was a bagboy decades ago. “It was a winter cold night and out comes Fred Meijer helping me load that car up full of groceries and he was just such a common caring guy,” Thomas says.
They say he never lost his humility. “You wouldn`t know that he was rich even. You know, he was just a common ordinary person,” says Ludlow.
“'I think he was both great and common at the same time,’ says Thomas. Customer Elizabeth Campbell says, “He was very good to Greenville.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun