GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Robert Vlasic, who helped push his family’s local business into a national pickle mainstay, has died. He was 96 years old.
The Detroit News reports Vlasic passed away Sunday from natural causes, surrounded by friends and family.
The Vlasic name first entered the food market with cheese. Frank Vlasic immigrated with his family to Detroit in 1912 and eventually saved up enough money to open his own creamery. His son, Joe, helped expand the company by selling Polish pickles, spiced with garlic and dill.
According to the Vlasic business page, sales took off once the company started selling its pickles in jars, spurred by a supply shortage caused by World War II. Joe’s son, Robert, took over as general manager of Vlasic following the war and over the next two decades expanded the business into a national mainstay, eventually dropping the creamery to focus solely on pickles.
The business was eventually sold to the Campbell Soup Company in 1978. Robert Vlasic took a role on Campbell’s Board of Directors and served as its chairperson from 1988 to 1993.
Vlasic was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy. They married in 1950 and raised five sons. Nancy Vlasic passed away in 2016.
A visitation will be held on May 27 with a memorial service to follow on May 28.