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Robert Stiles, who was president of Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s from 1996 to 2011, died Thursday, Nov. 26, according to published reports. Stiles had worked for the company for more than a half-century.Stiles began his career at Gelson’s in 1960 as a grocery clerk in Burbank, Calif. He rose through the ranks as an assistant manager, a grocery manager, and a director of stores in Tarzana and North Hollywood, Calif., going on to become the director of grocery merchandising, VP of marketing and ultimately president. He retired from Gelson’s in 2012.According to the company, Stiles guided the expansion of the company's wide assortment of organic and local products, as well as the up-to-the-minute, eco-friendly design features of its stores.Additionally, Stiles sat on the California Grocers Association board for six years and was elected chairman of the board for 2004-05. In 2007, he was inducted into the trade organization’s Educational Foundation Hall of Achievement, and was also a director on the Unified Grocers board."Gelson’s lost an important member of our family and an important part of our history," the company noted. "Bob will be missed, but his legacy will live on in our stores, in our people and in the Gelson’s way of doing business."