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Former Wakefern chairman, ShopRite owner dies

Wakefern and ShopRite have announced that the longtime patriarch of Village Super Market, James Nicholas Sumas, died  July 7 in his Morristown, N.J., hometown.

Jimmy as he was often called, served on numerous Wakefern committees and became the chain’s committee chairman in 1957, and occupied the role for 60 years.

“Jimmy really represented the entrepreneurial family business spirit that defines Wakefern,” Joseph S. Colalillo, chief executive officer and chairman at Wakefern, said. “He loved his family and associates and was passionate about the values and the importance of our cooperative. But most importantly, Jimmy loved to teach and mentor others and he helped all of us to grow. He wanted everyone to succeed not only because he cared about the business, but also because he cared about people. Jimmy will be greatly missed here at Wakefern.”

In addition, Sumas also served as Wakerfern’s vice chairman, was a member of the Board of Directors for over 30 years, served as the company’s chairman of the advertising committee and was the vice chairman of the sales and merchandising committees for the retailer and ShopRite.

“Jimmy Sumas was a force of nature at Wakefern, where he was the heart and soul of our marketing and merchandising philosophies,” Joe Sheridan, president and chief operating officer at Wakefern, said. “He instilled that soul in generations of Wakefern associates and members, and his teaching and training had a very human and genuine touch.”

Born in 1933, Sumas was the first son to Greek immigrants Nicholas and Athena Sumas, and worked in his father and uncle’s supermarket in South Orange, N.J., throughout this childhood.

Sumas earned his business degree in 1955 from Seton Hall University, served in the U.S. Army for two years and in 1957 began to dedicate himself to his family and work in the family business of supermarkets, which had become part of Wakefern a decade earlier.

In June, the Sumas family opened its 30th ShopRite location, which is the first for the Bronx, N.Y.

Jimmy is survived by his wife Helen, daughters MariaElaina and Stephanie, son John James and grandsons Theodore-James and James Beau. He also is survived by his brother Robert, sister-in-law Harriet and a large extended family.
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