Jim Kowalski, who co-founded Kowalski's Markets, has died as the result of an airplane accident this morning while on a fishing trip in Ontario.
A family member says Kowalski suffered a fatal head injury. She said the accident did not involve a crash.
Jamie Pfuhl, president of the Minnesota Grocers Association, said Kowalski was an outstanding corporate citizen.
"I have known him for 17 years. And I think what will be the greatest memory of Jim is his incredible spirit and passion for the industry, the people who he worked with, his family and his entire community," she said. "He was a unique individual that you are blessed to meet once in a lifetime."
Jim Kowalski was working for Red Owl 30 years ago when he noticed that grocer's under-performing store on St. Paul's Grand Ave. The Kowalskis used their life savings and a loan from a friend to buy the store. The business grew to include nine Kowalski's stores and one Cub Foods store.
Kowalski's has around 1,200 employees.