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NEW YORK — Bashas' chairman and CEO Eddie Basha, Jr. has died, according to published reports. He was 75 years old.
According to the Associated Press, Basha's cause of death was not disclosed, but his family had said his health had been failing.
Basha took over the Phoenix-based company in 1968 following the death of his father, Eddie Basha Sr., who had founded it in 1932 with his brother, Ike. The company had grown out of the retail business of their parents, Najeeb and Najeeby, who had immigrated to the United States from Lebanon at the turn of the 20th century. Since then, it has grown to more than 130 stores in Arizona, New Mexico and southern California.
Basha unsuccessfully ran for Arizona state governor in 1994 as a Democrat. He supported same-sex marriage years before it became a significant issue in American politics, and he was a supporter of Martin Luther King Day before it became economically important, recalling his family's victimization by the Ku Klux Klan due to their ethnic origin, according to reporting on his campaign in the Tucson, Ariz., Citizen at the time. "The issue to me is discrimination. I felt if someone is being discriminated against by any means, I oppose it," the newspaper quoted Basha as saying.