Saturday, May 17, 2003

Obituary: Charles Squeri, built food service empire

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Charles A. Squeri founded Squeri Food Service with a $900 investment in 1954 and grew it into one of Cincinnati's largest private companies. The Queensgate food distribution business did annual sales of $100 million when Mr. Squeri sold it to JP Foods in 1996.

Mr. Squeri died Sunday of cancer of the blood at Christ Hospital. The Hyde Park resident was 74.

The secrets to his success were excellent people skills and a commitment to hard work, according to Steve Bender of Delhi Township. Mr. Bender knew Mr. Squeri since their college days and served as vice president of Squeri Foods for some 30 years.

Mr. Squeri had an "amazing" and "exceptional" ability to collect friends, Mr. Bender said. His credo was: "If you work hard enough, you can do what you want to do."

"He just tried a little harder than most other people, I think," Mr. Bender said.

Born and raised in Covedale, Mr. Squeri was a graduate of Elder High School and Xavier University.

"He graduated from Xavier in 1951, and he had to start saving the money" to go into business, said his sister, Virginia Lagaly of Covedale. "When he saved enough, he started his first warehouse at Second and Plum streets. That area was the produce business at that time.

"He had this vision in the late 1950s and early 1960s that frozen food was the way to go in fruits and vegetables. So he built a bigger warehouse," she said.

Mr. Squeri's business continued to grow, and he built a third warehouse in Queensgate in 1972.

All four of his sons worked with him from the early 1980s until the business was sold.

Mr. Squeri was also a partner in Merchants Cold Storage Co., and U.S. Financial Co., as well as a member of the board of directors of the Northside Bank and Trust.

He was a member of Maketewah Country Club in Bond Hill and Grey Oaks Country Club in Naples, Fla.

In addition to his sister, survivors include his wife, Barbara Kitzmiller Squeri; two daughters, Sarah Squeri of Cleves and Elizabeth Squeri Kroth of Covedale; four sons, Fred and John Squeri, both of Covedale, and Charles and Joseph Squeri, both of Bridgetown; five stepsons, Michael, Timothy, David, Paul and John Kitzmiller; 23 grandchildren; and 12 step-grandchildren.

Services have been held. Burial was at St. Joseph New Cemetery in Price Hill.

Memorials: Hospice of Cincinnati, 4310 Cooper Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242.


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