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PDQ Founder Passes Away

Jacobsen was NACS president in 1972; built major Midwest c-store chain
MIDDLETON, Wis.-- Samuel J. Jacobsen, who was born to immigrant parents and raised on a produce farm and went on to found PDQ Food Stores Inc., one of the most successful convenience store chains in the Midwest, died of heart failure Monday at 84, said The Wisconsin State Journal.

A charter member of NACS, Jacobsen served as the association's president in 1972.

For Jacobsen, it was all a "labor of love," his widow Nancy told the newspaper. "He was a self-made man," she said. "He said he never knew whether he was working or playing."

She added, "Every [image-nocss] time we traveled, he stopped by the stations."

Nancy Jacobsen said her husband's drive was already in place by the time he was a teen and he and a partner started their own produce business. Proceeds from that venture allowed him to put himself through the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she said.

"Where do any of us get the traits that carry us through life?" she said. "His parents were very hard-working and Christian.... He talked extensively about his parents."

In October, the couple hosted a reception at their Westport, Wis., home for longtime PDQ employees that drew some 200 people.

Jacobsen was a pioneer in the c-store industry. He founded PDQ Food Stores Inc. in 1949. In 1948, Jacobsen opened his first store under the Tri Dairy name. The business was slow until he started to add other merchandise such as groceries, beer, soft drinks and more. He operated that sole store for 13 years.

In 1962, he had acquired enough money to build his second store, which would be the first to fly the PDQ banner. His late first wife, Mary, came up with the name "Pretty Darn Quick," borrowing a phrase that was in vogue during World War I.

The chain eventually grew to more than 200 stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Nevada and Florida. Jacobsen sold the business to his sons in 1991, and last year, it was sold to its employees under an employee stock ownership plan. It now has 46 locations in Wisconsin, mostly in the Madison and Milwaukee areas; Minnesota, in the Twin Cities area; and in California.

Jacobsen was one of the early leaders who helped expand the role of NACS after its founding in 1961, the group said on its website. "There needs to be something between a supermarket and the mom-and-pop stores that closed up," he said about the role of NACS and the c-store business.

His involvement in NACS culminated with his role as the 1971-1972 president (the position is now called chairman) of the association.

"Sam's contribution to our association and our industry goes far beyond his tenure as president," NACS president and CEO Hank Armour said on the group's website. "He helped nurture and grow our industry. Many of the things we take for granted todayour video training programs from the early 1970s, our State of the Industry data and our involvement with critical industry standards, to name a fewtook root when Sam was most active in NACS. His contributions are immeasurable, and he will be missed."Jacobsen also developed a multimillion-dollar golf course and residential community known for its stunning views and exclusivity, the State Journal said. David Savich, Jacobsen's nephew and a past PDQ president, said his uncle's interest in golf led him to develop Bishops Bay Country Club along the Lake Mendota shore in Westport.

He also owned Leer Manufacturing in New Lisbon, Wis., a manufacturer of ice merchandisers, and Nedland Industries Inc., Ridgeland, Wis., manufacturer of equipment for the waste management and recycling industry, according to his obituary.

CSP extends condolences to his family, his friends and his colleagues.

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