MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jim Kowalski died Thursday in an accident involving a plane while fishing in Canada, according to family member Deb Kowalski. The plane did not crash.
Deb Kowalski said Jim suffered a head injury in the unspecified incident in Red Lake, Ontario, and an autopsy is being performed. She said he was with a friend on the trip.
Jim Kowalski, 67, founded Kowalski’s Markets back in 1983. He and his wife, Mary Anne, co-owned what is now nine stores that employ nearly 1,200 people.
According to the company website, Jim and Mary Anne Kowalski have both received the highest honors in the industry; Jim as Minnesota Grocer of the Year and Mary Anne as the National Grocers Association Woman of the Year.
Just this week, staffers said stores were preparing for a celebration marking 30 years in business.
St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman shared his condolences, too.
“Jim left a lasting legacy in St. Paul and across the metro area. His passing is tragic and my heart goes out to his family.”
Very very sad day My uncle Jim Kowalski has died in a tragic accident. A true icon and awesome man. @kowalskismarket words cannot express:(
— Tim Mahoney (@timmahoneymusic) September 5, 2013