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Leonard Lieberman, former chairman and CEO of Supermarkets General Corp., former parent company of Pathmark, died at home in Hoboken on Jan. 2 at the age of 85. Following his departure from Supermarkets General, Lieberman became an influential advocate for cities, particularly Newark, and one of New Jersey's most prominent civic leaders.
A generous donor to local arts and education organizations, a gallery at the Newark (N.J.) Museum was recently dedicated to him and his wife, Arlene.
According to a story about his passing on nj.com, Lieberman’s career took an unexpected turn in 1963, "[when he] left the practice of law to become VP and general counsel of Supermarkets Operating Co., a group of several stores that were a part of the ShopRite cooperative chain. Supermarkets Operating Co. opened and acquired additional stores and in 1967, the group left the ShopRite chain under the ownership of Supermarkets General Corp. and named its stores Pathmark, which was to become one of the leading supermarkets retail chains in the Northeast. Lieberman became president of Supermarkets General Corp. (SGC) in the early 1980s and in 1983 became chairman and chief executive officer.
"Lieberman played a major role in steering Pathmark through several decades of innovation and growth, occasionally by acquiring existing businesses but principally via a strategy of building stores in new markets in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. By the mid-1980s, SGC had more than 50,000 employees. It then ranked among the top ten largest supermarket chains in the nation.
"While at the helm of Pathmark, the firm took a bold step counter to the trend of supermarkets closing their stores in urban communities, which began following the civil disorders that swept the country in the 1960s. In 1977, Pathmark opened a new supermarket in a poor section of Brooklyn in partnership with the Bedford Stuyvesant Corp. Before departing Pathmark, Lieberman laid the foundations for similar partnerships which eventually led to new stores in central areas of Manhattan and Newark. In the late 1980s, Lieberman joined the board of Vestar, a portfolio management company."
Lieberman, born in 1929 in Elizabeth, N.J., graduated from Yale University in 1950. In 1953, he earned a law degree from Columbia Law School and also completed a three-month advanced management program at the Harvard Business School in 1970.
In addition to his strong civic, arts and social justice leadership, Lieberman also served on numerous state and regional planning bodies as well as on the boards of 15 nonprofit institutions.
From 1987 to the present, Lieberman primarily devoted his time to private investments. From January through April 1991, he served as chairman, president and CEO of Outlet Communications Inc. From 2002 to June 2006, he served as a director of Enterprise News Media Inc. and also served as a member of the management committee of Consolidated Container Company LLC and as a director of Modern Bank, N.A. On August 27, 2010, Leonard Lieberman retired from the board of directors of Sonic Corp.
Lieberman is survived by his wife of 27 years, Arlene; three daughters from a previous marriage; and two step children.