Co-founder of Zehrs Markets remembered as ‘kind, generous and genuine’ [Video]

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WATERLOO REGION — Lester Zehr, the co-founder of Zehrs Markets, is being remembered as a humble and generous friend and businessperson. "What you saw is what you got. There was no falseness about him, he was just him," said Pat Herzog, a family friend whose late husband Bill Herzog worked...

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WATERLOO REGION — Lester Zehr, the co-founder of Zehrs Markets, is being remembered as a humble and generous friend and businessperson.

“What you saw is what you got. There was no falseness about him, he was just him,” said Pat Herzog, a family friend whose late husband Bill Herzog worked as vice-president of finance at Zehrs.

“The three words that kind of say it best are kind, generous and genuine.”

Zehr, who lived in Waterloo, died on Tuesday at the age of 91. He is survived by Elva, his wife of 67 years, his three children, Brenda Eudoxie, Don Zehr and Gregory Zehr, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Zehr, who helped build a number of companies, is best known for starting the Zehrs Markets grocery store chain with his father and brother. The first store opened on Highland Road in Kitchener in 1950. There are now more than 40 Zehrs across southwestern Ontario.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. purchased Zehrs in 1963, but Lester continued on with the chain.

“We are saddened by the news of Lester’s passing and wish to express our condolences to the entire Zehr family,” said the company in a email to The Record.

Lester’s son Don said his father was known as “the humble entrepreneur,” who cared for the people he worked with.

“He was generous, good and fair to everyone,” said Don, CEO of Zehr Group, a development and construction company in Kitchener.

And that’s how Betty Anne Keller remembers him. As a teen, she was a cashier at the Belmont Zehrs grocery store from 1966 to 1969.

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