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WESTFORD, Mass. -- John E. Donelan, 87, founder of the Donelan's Supermarkets chain, has died at a nursing home here after a stroke, according to published reports.
Donelan started the first of his namesake supermarkets in Littleton, Mass. in 1948. By the time he sold the business to his sons, John K. and Joseph R., in 1985, the business had grown to three stores, primarily in the greater Boston area. Since then his sons have opened three additional locations, also in Massachusetts.
A native of Bridgeport, Conn., Donelan was the eldest of 11 children of a supermarket manager father who introduced him to the industry. During World War II Donelan's army division helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp.
In addition to his sons, Donelan's survivors include his wife, the former Mary McCann; two daughters, Mary Seidl of Hampton, N.H., and Barbara Williams of Ossining, N.Y.; a brother; and five sisters.