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Robert F. Weis, former chairman of Weis Markets and a principal figure in the growth of the Sunbury, Pa.-based grocer, has died at 96.
A lifelong resident of Sunbury, Weis was born on June 10, 1919 to Harry and Stella Freeman Weis in the town where his father and his uncle, Sigmund, opened their first store, known as Weis Pure Foods, in 1912. In the years that followed, the two brothers opened stores throughout Central Pennsylvania.
Early in his life, Weis worked in his family’s stores as a cashier and later bagged produce and delivered groceries to customers.
Following graduation from Yale University in 1941 and subsequent service in the U.S. Army Air Force, Weis worked for his father's company in various positions, including operations, distribution, marketing, procurement, human resources, real estate and store construction. Ultimately, he would oversee the company’s finances, real estate and store construction.
In the subsequent decades, Weis helped oversee Weis Markets’ growth and expansion into six states. In 1995, he became chairman, and since 2009, the company has made record investments in its growth, acquired 11 units, upgraded more than 100, and opened nine new stores.
Weis and his wife, Patricia, were married for 57 years. They are the parents of three children: Jonathan Weis, who serves as Weis Markets’ chairman, president and CEO, and is married to Analisa Barreto Weis; Colleen Ross Weis of New York City, who is a 20th century decorative arts specialist and married to Martin Laiks; and Jennifer Weis Monsky, also of New York City, who is executive editor at St. Martin’s Press and married to John R. Monsky. Weis is also survived by nine grandchildren and a sister, Ellen Wasserman of Baltimore.
Weis Markets operates 163 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia. In 2014, the company generated $2.8 billion in revenues.