Jewel-Osco President Doug Cygan died Thursday morning at the age of 55.
A spokeswoman for the supermarket chain said he suffered from a brief illness before his passing.
“Doug was a popular President, a strong leader within the company and in the community,” Jewel-Osco spokeswoman Mary Frances Trucco said in a statement. “Everyone at Jewel-Osco is devastated by his passing.”
Mr. Cygan began as a part-time clerk with Jewel-Osco more than 30 years ago, eventually working his way up to President in 2017. He is survived by his wife and six children. His family could not be reached Thursday afternoon.
Before he was named president last year, Mr. Cygan was vice president of marketing and merchandising for all of the 187 Jewel-Osco stores in the Chicago area.
A 1981 graduate of Mundelein High School, Mr. Cygan earned a bachelor’s degree in food distribution from Western Michigan University.
He also served on the boards of the Northern Illinois Food Bank and NorthPointe Resources, a non-for-profit that provides health services for people with behavioral and developmental disabilities.
In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times last year, Mr. Cygan said his strategy was to stay “hungry and humble” in his efforts to ensure the supermarket chain’s longevity.
In the 1990s, Jewel-Osco supplied food to Peapod, the grocery delivery service. About 17 years ago, Peapod opted to start sourcing from wholesalers.
Between Peapod’s leaving and the influx retail options and meal-kit delivery services, Mr. Cygan made a point to offer customers the option of purchasing groceries on the internet.
The newest Chicago area store broke ground at 61st and Cottage Grove earlier this year. The 48,000-square-foot grocery will feature a drive-thru pharmacy and is expected to open by early 2019.