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Earl Redner, 91, founder of Redner’s Markets, private pilot, enjoyed traveling to China
Earl Redner, founder of Redner’s Markets, passed away peacefully Wednesday, April 5, in Lancaster County. He was 91 years old.
Born in Bridgewater, Va., on Sept. 19, 1925, to the late William and Gladys Redner.
Earl began his career in the food industry in 1940 as a furnace stoker and potato bagger with the Grand Union Tea Company. He spent the next 29 years working for Grand Union in various positions including assistant store manager, district sales manager, division grocery sales manager and superintendent of stores in Washington, D.C.
He was the youngest Grand Union employee to hold the title of manager, district manager, and store superintendent with Grand Union until his departure in 1970.
During 20 years of leadership with Redner’s, he set a standard for customer service and placed an emphasis on advanced technologies as an independently owned, industry leader in groceries.
Earl, known to be an early innovator with employee owned stock option companies and a risk taker in food retailing, founded the Redner’s Markets in Leesport in 1970 with his late wife, Mary.
Under his leadership, Redner’s successfully changed the grocery marketplace by successfully transitioning a traditional grocery operation to that of a warehouse market sales and purchasing format, which was years ahead of its time. Today, Redner’s has over 53 grocery and convenience stores located throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Redner’s has annually ranked in the top five (total sales) of independently owned (small chain) grocers in the United States.
He served as chairman of PFMA, and on the board of the National Grocers Association. Earl, along with his late wife Mary, was honored in 1998 with the Heart of the Industry Award by the Grocery Manufacturer’s of Central Pennsylvania, and in 2011, recognized as Person of the Year by Association of Manufacturer Representatives and the Mid-Atlantic Foods Trades Organization.
A humble leader, Earl will long be remembered for his notebook that he carried with him throughout each work day. Admired by all at Redner’s, Earl was affectionately known as “The Chief.” His presence will be greatly missed in the family business.
Earl was also active as a community booster and philanthropist. He had been a longtime member of the Shillington Rotary Club. He was an active member in the Church of the Brethren of Wyomissing, where he served as a deacon.
Earl had a zest for life. For years he was a private pilot, at times delivering produce to Redner’s stores through the air. He loved to travel, especially to visit the Holy Land and China; hunting was a longtime pastime, and he exercised throughout his life. In recent years he enjoyed bowling, last participating two weeks ago.
He is survived by his wife: Karen, of Lancaster; son: Richard, husband to Elaine, of Sinking Spring; daughter: Chere Kelley, of Charleston, S.C.; six grandchildren: Ryan Redner, Stacy Hopp, Gary M. Redner, Casey Redner, Nicole Hoyt and Alexis Foreman; 14 great-grandchildren; and a sister: Ruth Weyant.
He was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Mary G. Redner; son: Gary W. Redner; brothers: Raymond, Frank, and Charles; and a sister, June.
Services were held April 22 at Wyomissing Church of the Brethren, Wyomissing. Burial followed in Leesport Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Wyomissing Church of the Brethren, 2200 State Hill Road, Wyomissing, PA 19610.
To offer condolences to Earl’s family, visit kuhnfuneralhomes.com. Edward J. Kuhn Funeral Home, West Reading, handled the arrangements.