(April 26) Robert Wegman, chairman of Wegman’s Food Markets Inc., Rochester, N.Y., died April 20. He was 87.

Wegman’s father, Walter Wegman, and uncle, Jack Wegman, opened the company’s first store in 1916, according to its Web site. For more than 50 years, Robert Wegman led its transformation from a small business to a multistate, 70-store, privately-owned grocery chain with more than 30,000 employees.

Wegman’s Food Markets has appeared each year since 1998 in Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” It earned a No. 1 rank in 2005 and the No. 2 spot this year.

Wegman became a store manager in 1947 after serving for three years as a U.S. Marine during World War II. He was named president of the company in 1950 and chairman in 1969.

Wegman’s health had been deteriorating for the past few years, but he continued to work, said his son, Danny Wegman, during his father’s April 25 funeral.

“His last six months were very difficult, but at work he was totally on his game,” Danny Wegman, who also is the chief executive officer of the company, said. “You wished you could keep up with him.”

Wegman’s funeral took place at St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, N.Y., and was carried live on television and the Internet. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that 3,000 chairs were set up for the funeral and that shuttle buses carried many people to the service.

Since 2005, Wegman had donated $13 million to St. John Fisher College to create the Wegmans School of Nursing and the Wegmans School of Pharmacy.

Wegman is survived by his wife, Peggy; children, Danny Wegman, Gail Tobin, Joan Goldberg, and Marie Kenton; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.