CINCINNATI, Ohio – Donald Becker, 62, executive vice president of The Kroger Co., passed away Feb. 16 in Cincinnati after suffering an aneurysm. Becker led the company's merchandising and procurement for grocery, perishables, drug/GM and pharmacy. He was also responsible for advertising, consumer research and customer loyalty; manufacturing and corporate brands; customer insights and strategy; supply chain; and supplier diversity.

The Cincinnati/Dayton Division and The Little Clinic also reported to him. He was passionate about inclusion and diversity and served as co-chair of Kroger's first General Office Cultural Council.

"We are deeply saddened to lose Don, our dear friend and extraordinary leader," said David Dillon, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "Don leaves a legacy of enthusiasm and passion for doing what's right for our customers and our associates. He touched the lives of countless people in our company as well as throughout our industry and community. He was a true 'people person' who mentored many associates at every level of our business. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Lynn; daughter, Mackenzie; son-in-law, CJ; grandson, Becker; and all of his family and friends at this difficult time."

Throughout his career, Becker helped Kroger strengthen relationships with both customers and suppliers. "He was an innovative leader who led our merchandising and procurement teams through great expansion and change," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's president and COO. "Don's deep industry knowledge and strong leadership skills engaged and inspired those around him. He was a great teacher and friend who was also eager to learn from others. We will all miss him deeply."

Becker joined Kroger in 1969 as a clerk in the Cincinnati/Dayton Division. During his career, he held a number of leadership positions, including vice president of the Cincinnati/Dayton Division and President of the Central Division. He was promoted to senior vice president in 2000 and to executive vice president in 2004.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Kroger, the nation's largest traditional grocery retailer, employs more than 338,000 associates who serve customers in 2,461 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names.