William Tedeschi Sr., 89; helped found successful food store chain

By Emily A. Canal
Globe Correspondent / March 15, 2009
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William Albert Tedeschi Sr., one of the founders of Tedeschi Food Shops, was known by family members as "Grandpa Boo" for his tendency to jump from behind doors to make his grandchildren laugh.

"That's how he lived his life. Life was fun for my father," said his daughter, Jean Tedeschi Donoghue of Norwell. "Everyday was fun and nothing bothered him."

Mr. Tedeschi died Friday of kidney failure at Queen Anne's Nursing Home in Hingham. He was 89.

Mr. Tedeschi was born in Rockland to Angelo and Katherine (Sabino). He graduated from Rockland High School in 1940 and completed schooling in X-ray training in Brockton before serving in World War II in the South Pacific as an X-ray technician.

Mr. Tedeschi returned to Rockland in 1945 and married his high school sweetheart, Grayce (Woodward), in 1946.

That same year, Mr. Tedeschi, his father, three brothers, and brother-in-law began developing eight Tedeschi Supermarkets in Plymouth County from the original location in his father's house on Belmont Street in Rockland.

The business was first located in the family's garage, where it sold oils, cheeses, and other imported goods to Italians in the neighborhood, and later that year expanded to other locations. Mr. Tedeschi became the manager in the Hanover and Braintree stores.

In 1961, the chain was sold to the Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., and two years later the brothers created Angelo's Supermarket, named after their father. Mr. Tedeschi became the vice president and general merchandise buyer of the chain's 20 locations on the South Shore and Cape Cod.

"He was hard-working and set a great example for the next generation," said his nephew Terrence of Duxbury, who worked in the supermarkets after he graduated from college. "Everyone will always remember him with a smile on his face. He had a tremendous love for life and people."

In 1990, Mr. Tedeschi retired and the same year his wife died of cancer. He met Suzanne (Rogers) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he had a winter home, and they married in 2003.

She died four years later of ovarian cancer.

Mr. Tedeschi enjoyed golfing and was a 50-year member of Marshfield Country Club. He was also a member of the Coral Ridge Country Club in Fort Lauderdale.

His daughter said her father taught her to golf when she was in college.

"We would compete in father-daughter tournaments. He was a better golfer then me," she said. "He played his whole life and it was a big part of his life."

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Tedeschi leaves two sons, William Jr. of Marshfield and Raymond of Norwell; four grandsons; two granddaughters; two brothers, Dominic and Robert of Norwell; and a sister, Etta Fitzgibbons of Rockland.

A funeral Mass will be said tomorrow at 9 a.m. in Holy Family Church in Rockland.

Burial will follow in Holy Family Cemetery.

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