NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH) — The legendary grocer and founder of the food retailer that bears his name, Stew Leonard Sr., has died at 93-years-old.
Leonard passed away at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City after a brief illness, according to a press release.
Leonard, born in Norwalk in 1929, was a graduate of Norwalk High School and the University of Connecticut’s School of Agriculture. He first worked for his family’s dairy business at Clover Farms Dairy in Norwalk where fresh milk was delivered daily by trucks and cows “mooed” for the neighborhood children.
In the late ’60s, amid the realization that the milk delivery business was fading, he decided to build his own retail dairy store where children could watch milk being bottled. He wanted the store to have a farmer’s market atmosphere.
His dreams became reality when Stew Leonard’s opened its doors in 1969, carrying just eight items. It became the “World’s Largest Dairy Store” according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not and earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest dollar sales per square foot of selling space.
Stew Leonard’s, known as the “Disneyland of dairy stores,” has grown to become a $600 million family-owned and operated business. Stew Leonard Jr. runs the company alongside his siblings Tom, Beth, and Jill, as well as five of his grandchildren.
There are three store locations in Connecticut — Norwalk, Danbury, and Newington — as well as stores in East Meadow, Farmingdale, Yonkers, and Paramus.
Leonard Sr. is survived by his wife of 70 years, Marianne Guthman Leonard, and their four children. He also leaves behind 13 grand children and 11 great-grand children.
Read his full obituary here.