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Bob Bartels, chairman of South Bend, Ind.-based Martin's Super Markets, died July 17 at age 78.
Bartels joined Martin's Super Markets in 1964 as a right-hand executive with the company and led it through many challenges and changes during his tenure. Under his leadership, Martin's grew from a mom-and-pop business into a fully functioning corporation. The company added 19 new stores, relocated six and completed numerous updates and remodeling projects under his watch. Bartels also oversaw the introductions of many of the company's most popular features, such as Side Door Deli Cafes, Starbucks Coffee kiosks and catering service. Bartels became president and CEO of Martin's in 1973, and chairman in 2005.
A former chairman of the Food Marketing Institute, Bartels also served his community in many roles, including trustee of Stanley Clark School, director of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce, director of the YMCA and trustee of Project Future.
Bartels was born on May 29, 1937, in Zanesville, Ohio. His wife, Nancy, whom he married in 1964, was a daughter of the founders of Martin's Super Markets, the late Jane (Cary) and Martin Tarnow. Survivors include a daughter, son and seven grandchildren.
A graduate of Purdue University, Bartels earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1959. Before joining Martin's, he worked for General Electric.
Founded in 1947, Martin’s Super Markets currently has 22 stores in South Bend, Mishawaka, Granger, Elkhart, Goshen, Plymouth, Nappanee, Logansport and Warsaw, Ind., and Niles, Stevensville and St. Joseph, Mich.