Food Lion co-founder Ralph Ketner in hospice care in Salisbury

Food Lion co-founder Ralph Ketner in hospice care in Salisbury

One of this area's best known businessmen and philanthropists is in hospice care, according to his daughter.

Ralph Ketner, 95, sent an email to a friend at the Salisbury Rotary Club providing details of his illness earlier in the week.  Mr. Ketner is also allowing WBTV to share the note:

Dear friends,

I hope this email finds you doing well.  For the past week, I have been hospitalized, having tests run.  That in all probability, I have colon cancer, and will not be having an invasive biopsy to confirm the doctor's suspicion. 

I have spent a lifetime building relationships with wonderful people, who are very special.  With this in mind, I am requesting no visitors during my illness.  I hope you will honor my wishes. 

If you would like to send a card with a note, please feel free to mail same to the Kiser Hospice Residential House, 1229 Statesville Boulevard, Salisbury, North Carolina 28144. If you prefer sending a message via email,  please direct those to and Angelia will provide me with copies. 

Kindest regards,

Ralph W. Ketner

On Wednesday Ketner's daughter posted on her Facebook page that her father was in hospice care.

Ketner, along with Wilson Smith and Brown Ketner, founded the Food Town grocery chain in 1957 in Salisbury.

The stores were a moderate success until 1968 when Ketner slashed prices and came up with the slogan 'LFPINC;' lowest food prices in North Carolina.

The success of Food Town beyond this point is legendary.  Ralph Ketner remained as head of the company until 1991.

Food Lion is still based in Salisbury and is a company of Delhaize America, the U.S. division of Brussels-based Delhaize Group.  Today, Food Lion operates more than 1,100 supermarkets in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, and employs more than 62,000 associates.

Among the many honors Ketner has received over the years are the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Institute of American Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame (1990), Distinguished Citizenship from North Carolina Citizens for Business & Industry (1992) and laureate of the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame (1990).

Ketner has made a name for himself by giving away much of the wealth he has accumulated, being active in many causes to help the less fortunate in the community.

According to Ketner himself, he has given approximately 35% of his net worth to various charities over the years.

In partnership with the City of Salisbury, the Ketners have helped save the downtown Wallace building which is now operated as The Plaza and is home to retail businesses, the WBTV Salisbury Bureau, Catawba College Downtown, and several offices and apartments.

The Ketners have also given funds to build an educational wing at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and to Helping Ourselves Meet Emergencies (HOME) in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Ketners have also donated to Habitat for Humanity, Rowan Vocational Opportunities, Livingstone College, Duke University, Catawba College, and Tri-State College in Angola, Indiana.

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