Lee H. Javitch, 81, the son of GIANT Food Stores founder David Javitch and a former president and chairman of the company, has died.
Javitch was born on March 4, 1931 and was a native of Carlisle, where his father opened a two-man butcher shop called the Carlisle Meat Market in 1923. Javitch’s father would later open the GIANT Shopping Food Center in Lewistown and turn the Carlisle Meat Market into a full grocery store, offering dry goods and perishables. By 1968, the ninth GIANT store was opening in Harrisburg and Lee Javitch was named president of the company. He would later serve as chairman from 1979 to 1982.
Javitch’s leadership contributed to the continued growth of GIANT Food Stores, which now have 183 stores throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
Bonnie Neidigh of Carlisle worked for Lee Javitch as his secretary in the mid-1960s when she remembers the GIANT chain only consisted of five stores.
“Lee had incredible business acumen and insight into the changing world of the supermarket industry and began to grow the organization into the ‘giant’ that it is today. Lee was highly respected within the industry and received many awards for his drive, innovation and integrity,” Neidigh said.
Neidigh also noted that Javitch was “very involved within the community and cared deeply for people.”
“He raised the bar high and taught us all a great deal about compassion and respect for our neighbors. He also had incredible energy and was usually the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave at night,” she said.
Neidigh said she quickly learned that Javitch was the epitome of a multi-tasker.
“He could be working on two or three different projects at the same time he was holding a phone conversation, and he never missed a beat,” she said. “He could visualize his goals and the paths that would need to be taken to reach them, and was very adept at involving the associates necessary to meet these goals. He always acknowledged everyone’s efforts and claimed all successes to be group successes.”
Neidigh also described how she will remember Javitch in the workplace.
“The memory about Lee that I will always keep alive is how he treated people with respect and dignity. In the early years of the company when there were approximately 700 associates, Lee knew the names of each associate. Frequently, he also knew the names of their spouse and children and would ask about them in a conversation,” Neidigh said.
According to Neidigh, even after Javitch retired and moved to New York, he made an effort to stay in touch with past associates. Javitch even hosted a party for past employees in 2007.
“Lee deeply touched many of us when he returned to Carlisle to host a dinner party for the ‘old timers,’ 25 years after selling the business,” Neidigh said.
“Carlisle was fortunate to have Lee and his father, David, make our town the home of their enterprise. But even more important was the legacy he leaves behind of his compassion, enthusiasm and integrity,” Neidigh said. “He will be sorely missed by so many people in our community.”
According to an obituary posted on the New York Times website, funeral services were held for Javitch at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison in Harrison, N.Y. on Friday morning. Interment followed at Sharon Gardens in Valhalla, N.Y.
Posted earlier on Cumberlink:
Lee H. Javitch, the former president and chairman of Giant Food Stores, died, according to the New York Times. Javitch is formerly of Carlisle and took over the business from his father, David Javitch, who founded the business as Carlisle Meat Market in 1923.
Lee Javitch was born in 1931 and built up his father’s store to more than 30 locations, according to an obituary posted in the New York Times. Javitch served on the Boards of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, the Board of Directors of Dauphin Deposit Bank and Allfirst Bank. He also served on the Board of Directors of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and for the Boards of MAZON: A Jewish Response for Hunger, and Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, for which he also served as Chair.
Funeral services will be held today at 11:30 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison in Harrison, N. Y. with internment to follow at Sharon Gardens, Valhalla, N.Y.
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