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Genevieve Dierberg, whose husband's father founded the St. Louis-area grocery store chain that bears the family's name, died Tuesday at age 107.
Her husband, the late William F. Dierberg, was a second-generation grocer who, with his brother, took over the business from their father in 1929. Their son, Bob Dierberg, is the current chairman of Dierbergs Markets Inc.
The former Genevieve Faron, the daughter of French immigrants, was born in Creve Coeur, Mo., on Dec. 17, 1905. She grew up on a 40-acre farm two miles from a general mercantile exchange called the Creve Coeur House, to which Dierbergs traces its roots back to 1854. Her school bus stop was at the Dierbergs store, which is where and how she first met William F. Dierberg.
Mrs. Dierberg’s connection with Bill predates their bus stop introductions. Around 1920, a telephone was first installed in the Faron home, sharing a six-party line that included the Dierbergs store. Mrs. Dierberg wrote in 2003: “We would get many of Dierbergs’ phone calls. If someone called our line we got three rings—two short and one long; the Dierbergs phone was three short rings.”
Along with the wives of her husbands’ brothers, Fred and Vallie, Mrs. Dierberg quickly became familiar with the family’s retail and banking businesses, helping whenever needed while juggling roles as wife, mother and homemaker. In her written recollections, she told of the store’s early years when the days’ events through 1945 would include slaughtering beef, pork and chicken outside the store. Her memories included how the family weathered the challenges of running a retail store through the rationing of World War II, filling orders for home deliveries in the 1940s and tabulating sales sheets in the 1960s.
In her later years, Mrs. Dierberg offered advice and enthusiasm to her sons as they continued in their own careers. It’s advice they continue to share with family and associates in their respective businesses: “It doesn’t cost you anything to greet a customer with a warm smile and a friendly hello.”
In addition to her son Bob, Mrs. Dierberg is survived by sons William C. and Jim Dierberg, 10 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. She was a life-long resident of Creve Coeur until she moved to Friendship Village West in Chesterfield at age 100. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Saturday.