FORT WAYNE – Alfred Maloley, who took over a family business of one small store and built it into the Maloley Bros. supermarket chain, at one point the largest in Fort Wayne, died Thursday. He was 100.
Mr. Maloley had also served on the board of the Peoples Trust and Savings Co., was president of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Fort Wayne Better Business Bureau, and had served on the board of the Fine Arts Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, and the development committee for the Indiana Institute of Technology, now known as Indiana Tech.
Maloley’s father had opened a store at Harrison and Superior streets in 1910. In 1931, Maloley had left to attend college on a track scholarship when his father died unexpectedly. Maloley had to return to Fort Wayne, where he discovered that his father’s store had also burned.
Unable to find work, Maloley and his brother Michael took their father’s life insurance money and in 1933 built a new store, a 700-square-foot shop, positioning it so people would pass by as they walked home. They eventually added five more small stores.
In 1956, Maloley opened his first supermarket and within four years had closed all the small stores and within four more years was operating six supermarkets.
The chain ultimately became the largest supermarket chain in Fort Wayne with 1,200 employees in 18 stores in northeast Indiana, including a trading stamp business and a bakery.
In 1980, the grocery chain was sold to Super Valu Stores.
Dave Bobilya, who started working for Maloley’s as a carryout boy and eventually became controller for the company, said Maloley never went to college but was brilliant. He called him a visionary who led the charge as the grocery business went through dramatic changes, converting from small markets to supermarkets. He frequently took management teams to see modern stores in other states to see how other people were doing things.
Mac Parker, who was a friend, said Maloley had a phenomenal memory.
He could recall almost anything that happened in Fort Wayne in the last 70 years. He had an amazing mind. Everybody was just flabbergasted.
Anita Cast, who served on the Fort Wayne Philharmonic board with Maloley in the 1970s, said Maloley wasn’t the type of person to draw attention to himself.
He wasn’t one to position himself to be in the spotlight, and that was part of his charm, she said. You always felt better after you met him.
Dick Van Horn, who started as a bagger at 15 1/2 for Maloley’s and is now the manager at the Kroger store at the Marketplace at Coventry, said he learned the business from him.
He pioneered a lot of stuff. For so many years supermarkets were a meat-and-potato business. He introduced gourmet foods, an expanded wine department, service meats, service seafoods.