Daniel Coborn, who led the Coborn’s Inc. company for the greater part of the 20th century, died March 15. He was 86.
Coborn was chief executive of the St. Cloud-based retailer from the late 1950s until his retirement in 1999. He was known for his colorful personality, according to a memorial post on the Coborn’s Blog.
“Dan’s youth was colorful – full of mischief, antics and risk. In later years he wasn’t proud of the trouble he had caused but he always took the good from the bad. His childhood experiences taught him lifelong lessons of patience, enduring optimism and the power of second chances. It was this remarkable influence that helped shape Coborn’s Inc. into the company it is today.”
Coborn and his brothers found themselves at the head of the family company after the unexpected death of their father in 1959. He was chosen by his brothers to be in charge.
In 1963, the company expanded to two stores and in 2979, the company’s first Cash Wise store opened.
An eternal optimist, Coborn was proud of the company’s successes – and failures, including Fountain Fresh, a bulk soda attraction including flavors like peach, banana and sarsaparilla.
“We made some bad decisions, but nothing that took the company down,” the blog quoted him as saying. “In the history of the company, we never missed a payroll except for four people – my brothers and me. And that didn’t happen very often. I never lost faith in the fact that it was a good business. People have to eat. They have to get their food from someplace.”
The Coborn’s legacy also includes philanthropy. Coborn and his wife Mabel were charter members of the United Way of Central Minnesota, and he was also a founding member of the Boys & Girls club of Central Minnesota.
He was named Minnesota Grocer of the Year in 1987, and in 2002 he received the Father Water Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award from Saint John’s University.