Ralph Wright Ketner|
September 20, 1920
Rimertown, North Carolina, U.S.
May 29, 2016 95) (aged|
Salisbury, North Carolina, U.S.
|Cause of death||Complications from colorectal cancer|
|Alma mater||Tri-State College|
Founder and Chairman-emeritus of Food Lion|
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Jones and Anne Blizzard|
Ralph Wright Ketner (September 20, 1920 – May 29, 2016) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was known for being the founder of Food Lion (originally founded as Food Town) in 1957.
Ketner was born in Rimertown, North Carolina on September 20, 1920 to parents George Robert Ketner and Effie Yost Ketner. Ketner grew up selling newspapers and almanacs, all while learning what he called "street smarts". At a young age, Ketner had an apparent aptitude for arithmetic, claiming he could "out add any adding machine." As a teenager, Ketner worked at his brother Glen Ketner's grocery store located in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
In 1937, Ketner graduated from Boyden High School and went on to attend Tri-State College in Angola, Indiana as an accounting major. He excelled in his accounting and business law classes, but ran out of money and kept dropping out of a required public speaking course. Thanks to Toastmasters, he was eventually able to cope with his fear of public speaking.
Returning home after leaving Tri-State College, he worked at Cannon Mills as an accountant, eventually rising to the position of auditor. After the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Ketner volunteered and joined the U.S. Army, serving in Africa and Europe for 36 months.
Food Town/Food Lion
On December 11, 1957, Ralph Ketner, Brown Ketner, and Wilson Smith co-founded the Food Town (later Food Lion) grocery store chain in Salisbury, North Carolina. Ketner served as President (later CEO, Chairman and Chairman Emeritus).
Ketner's first marriage was to Ruth Jones with whom he had two children: Linda Ketner of Charleston, SC and Robert Ketner of Greensboro, NC. His second marriage was to Anne Blizzard.
Ketner died at a hospice center in Salisbury, North Carolina from complications of colon cancer, aged 95.
Since retiring from Food Lion, Ketner engaged in many philanthropic activities in areas ranging from higher education, to housing, homelessness, children and hunger relief. In 1989, he provided half the funds and raised the other half necessary to build Rowan Helping Ministries first building, which was competed in 1989. On Ketner's 94th birthday, he donated $94,000 to Rowan Helping Ministries.
Awards and honors
Two schools of business have been named in Ketner's honor: Ketner School of Business at Trine University, formerly Tri-State College and his alma mater; and Ketner School of Business at Catawba College, where he was Executive in Residence and provided free business consulting to students and the wider community.
In 1992, the North Carolina Chamber, formerly known as the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, bestowed Ketner with the award for Distinguished Citizenship for his "work as an outstanding entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic volunteer."
In 2012, Ketner received the Wilson L. Smith Philanthropic Award from the Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation (now known as the Novant Health Foundation Rowan Medical Center).
- "North Carolina History Project: Ralph W. Ketner (1920–)". North Carolina History Project.com. Archived from the original on September 18, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- "Food Lion Founder Ralph Ketner Turns 94". Progressive Grocer.com. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- "Lessons in Leadership: The Story of Food Lion Co-Founder Ralph W. Ketner | Food Lion Newsroom". newsroom.foodlion.com. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "North Carolina Business Hall of Fame Laureates". North Carolina Business History. Junior Achievement of the Carolinas. 2006. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- "My Heart's Journey: Rising to rehab challenges". Salisbury Post.com. April 4, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "Ralph Ketner, who helped start Food Lion grocery chain, dies at 95". Washington Post. June 1, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
- "Catawba College Plans to 'CEED'". Salisbury Post.com. April 7, 2016. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "Ralph Ketner Honored For Distinguished Citizenship – North Carolina Periodicals Index". digital.lib.ecu.edu. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "NC Chamber | Award Recipients". NC Chamber. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- "Press releases | Novant Health". www.novanthealth.org. Retrieved 2016-06-15.
- "Salisbury Pride creates Ally Award to honor Ralph Ketner – Salisbury Post". Salisbury Post. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
- Mr. Ralph W. Ketner, D.B.A at Catawba.com