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SAN DIEGO--Henry A. Boney, the first elected leader of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), passed away last week at the age of 91.
"Henry Boney was a true visionary," said Kerley LeBoeuf, NACS president and CEO from 1981 to July of this year. "He could see the need for an association to represent this emerging industry to the supplier community and government. While he only operated a handful of stores, Henry took the initiative to gather industry retailers to form NACS."
"The entire NACS family is deeply saddened by this loss," added Hank Armour, current NACS president and CEO.
Henry Boney was born Aug. 18, 1914, in a farmhouse in Kress, Texas. He moved to California in 1934 and in 1943 began his career in retail, selling peaches at a fruit stand in Las Mesa with his wife Jessie.
In the early 1950s, Boney owned and operated the grocery stores Boney's, Bradshaw's and Superama, and served on the state and local executive committees of the California Grocers Association. In 1956, the Boneys sold the grocery stores and started the convenience store chain Speedee Mart, which is believed to be the first convenience chain to franchise its stores.
After selling Speedee Mart to The Southland Corp. in 1964 (now 7-Eleven Inc.), Boney became active in politics and philanthropy. He served two terms on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors,on the executive board of the San Diego Boy Scouts for 25 years, and was its president twice. In addition, Boney was a president of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. In 1965, he donated money for a building at California Western University that was named Boney Hall.
In 1961, Boney decided that the burgeoning convenience store industry needed a professional organization to promote its interests. To set up such an organization, he called 14 owners, presidents and general managers of convenience stores across the country and invited them to a one-day meeting at the Muhlebach Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. The initial meeting in 1961 was so successful that it extended to a second day.
NACS was launched that year with 36 retail members operating more than 3,000 stores. The founding of NACS is documented by Boney and his wife in the 1999 book, Living the American Dream .
Reflecting upon the 40th anniversary of NACS in 2001, Boney said, "The goal that we set was a goal that we would organize and that we would become an association to help one another. We felt we accomplished what we set out to do in the business, as well as assisting the others in what they were doing. That's what we tried to do and I think we accomplished that."
"He had a vision that very few people had and a memory that anybody would love to have,” long-time friend Chuck Reed told the San Diego Union-Tribune . “He was really an entrepreneur, and he just had a way of making it work."
Survivors include Henry's wife, Jessie; sons Steve, Stan, Scott, Kenny and Bob; daughter Darlene Darr; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A public viewing will be held 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 21, at Featheringill Mortuary, 6322 El Cajon Blvd in Rolando, Calif. A memorial service will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, at College Avenue Baptist Church, 4747 College Avenue in Rolando, Calif.