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NASHVILLE, Ga. -- Memorial services were held this weekend for Joseph Hillman Harvey Jr., the man behind the Harveys supermarket chain, who died on Aug. 18 after a long battle with cancer. He was 76.
J.H. Harvey Co., LLC is a subsidiary of Delhaize America, the U.S. division of Brussels-based Delhaize Group. The company currently operates 66 stores in Georgia and northern Florida and employs approximately 3,500 team members.
Joseph Hillman Harvey Jr. started working in his father's grocery stores when he was five years old, and later helped found the J.H. Harvey Company, Inc., in 1950. Emphasizing friendly customer service and a wide selection of fresh meats and local products, the Harveys chain grew from a handful of stores in the early 1950s to 45 locations in Georgia and north Florida in 2003, when Harvey sold the company to Delhaize Group.
"Harvey understood completely the bond that exists between a family and its local grocery store," said Tom Robinson, Harveys' c.o.o. "He believed in no excuses, and shouldered 100 percent of the responsibility for Harveys. He instilled in every Harveys store three basic principles: exceptional customer care, low prices, and developing the best team members in the grocery business."
Through the years, Harveys' customers felt as if they knew Joe Harvey personally, thanks to his appearances in TV commercials and frequent store visits. From the early 1950s until 2005, when his health declined significantly, he never missed a store grand opening. His desire was that Harveys stores always lived up to the company motto, "The Friendliest Store in Town."
Born in 1929 in Nashville, Harvey served customers iced soft drinks in his father's store when he was five years old. By the time he was nine, he worked daily in the store and did so until he graduated from high school. After attending college, Harvey returned to the family business and was appointed secretary of the J.H. Harvey Co. at age 21. In 1980 he became president and c.e.o. of the company and was made chairman of its board in 1989.
In 2003, Harvey negotiated the sale of the company to Delhaize Group. After the 2003 sale, Harvey maintained a lesser role with the company, continuing to appear at store openings and other events.
Harvey is survived by his wife, Martha Brumley Harvey, and several children, grand children and great-grand children.
The family requests in lieu of flowers, memorials be sent to Epworth by the Sea, P. O. Box 20407, St. Simons Island, GA 31522.