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Bashas' chairman dies at 75

Eddie Basha, chairman of Bashas' Family of Stores, died March 26 following a long illness. He was 75.

Edward Basha III, president and chief executive officer of the Chandler, AZ-based retailer, released news of the death of his father to company employees in a March 26 letter.

The letter read, in part, "To us, and to many of you, Eddie was always larger than life, and he gave his heart and soul to Bashas' Family of Stores. Ironically, Eddie never saw himself that way.eddiebashaEddie Basha He considered himself to be a Bashas' member, no different than any other, and he considered all Bashas' members to be a part of his family. During Eddie's lifetime he faced many challenges, the last few years being among the most challenging. But his desire to serve the people of the state he loved so well, and to take care of the members that he cared for so much, always gave him strength in the face of adversity."

Mr. Basha took over the chain in 1968 at age 31 upon the death of his father. He is credited with rescuing the financially troubled business, and even expanded it by added two banners, Food City and AJ's Fine Foods.

The chain ran into financial difficulties again in 2009 due to an ailing economy. It filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that year and closed 30 underperforming store locations. It emerged from bankruptcy in August 2010.

Bashas' Family of Stores currently has more than 130 locations under the Bashas', Bashas' Dine, AJ's Fine Foods and Food City banners.

Mr. Basha was a humanitarian who gave millions of dollars to charitable causes in Arizona and donated truckloads of food to the poor and homeless residents in the state.

He also was a staunch advocate of education, serving on both local and state boards of education. He worked for years to improve Arizona schools and provide more educational opportunities for students.

Mr. Basha also became involved in state politics, winning the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial primary before losing to incumbent Fife Symington in the race for governor.

Services for Mr. Basha will be held March 29 in Chandler, AZ.