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Ralph Lincoln Klein, founder of the Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland supermarket chain, died Saturday, Nov. 22, at the age of 88, according to published reports. His family said the cause of death was complications from heart and kidney disease.
Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland, based in Forest Hill, has nine stores in Harford and Baltimore counties as well as Baltimore City. After expanding from its flagship Forest Hill location and converting to Wakefern Food Corp.'s ShopRite banner in 2009, Klein's stores remained locally owned.
Klein had stopped actively working at the family-owned supermarkets a few years previously, but he and his wife remained active philanthropists, especially in regard to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, where the Klein Ambulatory Care Center on the campus is named for them. According to Klein's ShopRite, the company has contributed more than $190,000 in community donations each year, including a $40,000 scholarship annually.
Born in 1926, Klein was the only child of Maurice and Sarah Klein, who operated a general store in Fallston, Md. After army service during WWII and the post-war occupation of Germany, he returned home to join his father in running a general retail company. The business eventually became Klein's, known for stocking a wide variety of hard-to-find items.
Over time, the company grew from a single store in Forest Hill to six supermarkets in Harford County, two in Baltimore County and one in Baltimore City. Klein's ShopRite is currently among the top 10 largest employers in Harford County, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
Klein also engaged in local politics, serving for more than a decade on the Harford County Democratic Central Committee.
Along with his wife of 62 years and their sons, Andrew, Michael and Howard, all of whom became full partners in the family business, Klein's survivors include three daughters-in-law and eight grandchildren.