Eddie Basha, chairman of the Bashas' Family of Stores who regularly made appearances in the company's TV and newspaper ads for years, has died at age 75.
Basha passed away Tuesday afternoon.
The Chandler-born Basha took over his family's business, founded in 1910, in 1968, when he was 31 years old. He grew the grocery store chain to more than 150 locations with four distinct brands: AJ's Fine Foods, Food City, Sportsman's Fine Wines, and Bashas' grocery stores.
Basha also ran for governor against Republican incumbent Fife Symington in 1994. A father of six, he was also known for his philanthropic efforts and raised millions of dollars for worthwhile causes in Arizona.
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Edward Basha III, president and CEO of Bashas' grocery stores, issued a statement Tuesday evening to employees.
"Eddie was always larger than life, and he gave his heart and soul to Bashas' Family of Stores," he wrote. "Ironically, Eddie never saw himself that way. He considered himself to be a Bashas' member, no different than any other, and he considered all Bashas' members to be a part of his family."
"During Eddie's lifetime, he faced many challenges, the last few years being among the most challenging," Basha wrote. "But his desire to serve the people of the state he loved so well, and to take care of the members that he cared for so much, always gave him strength in the face of adversity."