Donald Perkins, a retired grocery executive and the first chairman of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, died March 25 2015 at his Northfield home, according to Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home. He was 88.
Perkins was CEO of Jewel from 1970 to 1980 before the grocery chain surrendered its independence to a succession of out-of-town corporate owners, first with American Stores in 1984. Though battered by new entrants, including Whole Foods, Walmart and Mariano's, in a changing grocery landscape, Jewel outflanked its local rival, Dominick's, which closed in 2013.
Born in St. Louis and a graduate of Yale University, with an MBA from Harvard Business School, Perkins was a Civic Committee founder and helped direct its first project, a 1984 study, "Jobs for Metropolitan Chicago."
He also was a prolific independent director of various companies, including AT&T, Aon, Corning, Cummins Engine, Firestone, Inland Steel, Kmart, Kodak, AT&T, G.D. Searle and Time Warner.