GENESEE COUNTY — Grocer Al Kessel, the founder of Kessel Food Markets, which was a chain of supermarkets that served Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Corunna from 1981-2000, died on Dec. 28, 2012, at the age of 74.
In addition to the supermarkets, Kessel was also a co-principal owner of Pet Supplies Plus and continued being a merchant with local Save-A-Lot Food and Pet Supplies Plus stores throughout Michigan.
Burton City Councilman Vaughn Smith, a retired advertising representative for The Flint Journal who handled the Kessel Food Markets account for 10 years, said Kessel was really appreciated by the people working at the Kessel Foods headquarters.
“In general, this gentleman did a lot for the community, things the average person doesn’t know,” said Smith.
Smith said he was always welcomed into the corporate headquarters and allowed to walk the halls.
“People there were phenomenal,” he said.
Born Albert Francis Kessel, Jr. on Aug. 16, 1938, in Owosso, Kessel began his career as an accountant at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. He then began working in the grocery business in 1963 when he became the comptroller for Spartan Stores in Grand Rapids.
He also worked as the treasurer for Giant Food Stores in Pennsylvania and as executive vice-president at Hamady Brothers Supermarkets in Michigan.
In December of 1981, Kessel opened his first stores in Saginaw and then expanded to Corunna, the Flint community and Bay City. Kessel Food Markets won the grocery industry’s award for “Supermarket of the Year” in 1988 for the store on Genesee Street in Saginaw and again in 1993 for the store on Pierson Road at the north end of Flint.
Kessel also established the Kessel College Fund for Kessel associates, paying for the college education for over 1,000 Kessel associates. He also established a summer basketball camp for youngsters in Flint in the late 1980s and 1990s, a charitable trust in the memory of his first wife, Bette and an annual golf tournament for women.
Kessel is survived by his wife Colette Marcoux Lehoux Kessel, nine children, 21 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
Visitation will be at the Hill Funeral Home at 11723 South Saginaw Street in Grand Blanc on Jan. 3 from 4-8 p.m. and Jan. 4 from 4-8 p.m. with a Rosary at 7 p.m. A funeral mass will be held on Jan. 5 at 10 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church, which is located at 11804 South Saginaw Street in Grand Blanc. The funeral mass will be followed by the burial at Evergreen Cemetery.
It is asked that in lieu of flowers, please send charitable donations to Avow Hospice, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, FL 34105 or to your favorite charity in memory of Kessel. Condolences may be shared with the family at www.hillfh.com.