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Editorial: Community grateful to and for Ketner

Perhaps you saw the item in Wednesday’s Salisbury Post. Ralph Ketner, co-founder of Food Lion, sent word to his Rotary Club that he was ill; his doctor suspected cancer. Ketner sent along friendly words and a request that no visitors come by. If people wanted to drop him a note, he said, they could send them to him at the Kiser Hospice House.

Quite an outpouring followed. On the Post’s website and on our Facebook page, readers posted words of gratitude and admiration for the man who has meant so much to Salisbury.

Apparently the outpouring showed up in Ketner’s mail as well. Daughter Linda sent along this note Saturday afternoon:

I wanted to thank the Salisbury Post for making possible the hundreds of notes and emails Dad has received already since you published his letter. Dad reads (or has me read to him) every word … and we laugh, cry, reminisce with each person who writes. It’s total joy for him!

The outpouring of love and appreciation is invaluable to his spirits. The thoughtful words and memories also show the generous spirit of this community. Dad, as well as his family, are deeply, deeply grateful for the kindness.

Dad is sleeping most of the day so the notes are a perfect way for people to let him “hear” all the people who want to share thoughts, remembrances, prayers and wishes.

So, thank you, Salisbury! You are amazing people and Dad loves this remarkable town and her people.

Best, Linda Ketner

Ralph Ketner helped found Food Lion and came up with the pricing strategy that made it the fastest growing supermarket chain in the country for a period of time. Food Lion saved shoppers countless dollars even as it made investors — and the community — rich. As one person said, Ketner helped put Salisbury on the map.

Most of today’s kudos for Ketner, however, are about his kindness and generosity. It’s one thing to be successful in business and another to be rich in spirit. In that sense, Ralph Ketner seems to become richer with each passing year. Maybe that’s the secret to reaching 95-plus. At any rate, this is a fitting time to thank him, when he can enjoy the messages and do some reminiscing himself.

Cards and notes can be sent to Ralph Ketner, Kiser Hospice Residential House, 1229 Statesville Blvd., Salisbury, N.C. 28144. Email messages sent to asbates@catawba.edu will be printed out and shared with him too.

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