Charles “Charlie” Hooley grew up in grocery stores, so it’s not surprising that he made his mark as a co-founder of Cub Foods, which was among the nation’s first warehouse-style grocery stores.
Hooley, 89, of Stillwater, died Sunday, according to family members.
Hooley, who was born and died in Stillwater, also served as mayor of the city in the early 1990s, said Mark Hooley, his son. “He was dedicated to his community,” Mark Hooley said.
And a born businessman, his son added.
Charles Hooley’s family had operated grocery stores since 1876, including locations in Stillwater, Red Wing and Hudson, Wis.
In the 1960s, he collaborated with his brother, Jack; his brother-in-law Robert Thueson, and business partner Culver Davis to create a new kind of store — a no-frills shopping experience where prices were very low because store owners bought goods in big volumes.
Cub Foods, which was short for Consumers United for Buying, debuted in 1968 as a place to buy canned and packaged foods. It later expanded to carry other items, including meat.
Hooley retired in 1985. In 1993, he was appointed mayor of Stillwater when the mayor at the time ran for another office. In that role, Hooley was a “creative problem solver,” his son said. “He didn’t see obstacles.”
As mayor, he helped the city secure federal funding to rebuild the levy in downtown Stillwater, Mark Hooley said.
Throughout his life, Hooley stayed busy, his son said, sailing on Lake Superior, fixing and collecting Model A cars and raising Belgian horses on a farm south of Stillwater. “In his heart of hearts, he loved a good, hard day’s work,” Mark Hooley said.
The father of seven, he was a family man who enjoyed spending time with his children. He and his wife, Nancy, were married for 65 years.
He also loved people and had a genuine interest in what they had to say, Mark Hooley said.
“He befriended people from all walks of life,” his son said. “When he was talking to you, you were the only person in the room.”
A memorial service is planned for Friday at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Stillwater.