Grocery pioneer Chuck Yoke passes away at 92
SPOKANE, Wash. — Northwest Grocery Pioneer Chuck Yoke has passed away at the age of 92.
Yoke, a native of Eastern Washington, turned his parents’ single Deer Park Grocery store into one of the northwest’s premier supermarket chains.
Yoke’s Foods, Inc. now has 17 stores in Washington and Idaho with more than 1,600 employees.
Yoke worked at his family’s market as a boy, then went on to graduate from Deer Park High School, as well as Washington State University. He served in the Air Force after college and a few years later formed a partnership with his father Marshall Yoke.
Together, they ran the market in Deer Park and added check-outs, shopping carts and refrigerated display cases.
In 1960, Yoke borrowed money against his house and took over full ownership of Yoke’s Foods. He led the company through its expansion between 1960 and into the 1990s.
In 1975, Yoke’s opened one of the region’s first “Warehouse Market” formats which allowed customers to mark their own items and save money. He later became one of the first in the area to add full-service delis, pharmacies and floral departments.
Fifteen years later, Yoke sold his grocery empire to his employees, but remained active with the company as the Director of the Board until his recent death.
Yoke is preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Gwen, five children, 20 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, five step great-grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter.
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