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ROCKFORD, Ill. — The convenience store industry suffered another loss when Dan Arnold, founder of the Road Ranger chain, passed away Tuesday.
In addition to his work in the industry, he was known as a philanthropist and supporter of ministries that helped addicts recover. Arnold, 58, is survived by his wife, Linda, and twin daughters, Christina and Giselle, according to the Rockford Register Star.
Arnold opened his first gas station in Rockford at Harlem and Forest Hills Roads in 1984, three years after he became the first member of his family to graduate from college. Prior to that, he served four years in the National Guard.
He earned a marketing degree from Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb, Ill., in 1981, but he said in a speech to a military group that he considered the Illinois National Guard his true alma mater, as he could not have attended NIU had the Guard not paid his tuition, the news outlet reported.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Arnold started Road Ranger LLC with $5,000 before turning it into a multimillion-dollar franchise. He later sold it Phillips Petroleum Co.
For the next seven years, he built a real estate investment company. In 1997, Arnold restarted the Road Ranger chain with business partner Sunil Puri.
In late 2014, Road Ranger reached a deal with GPM Investments LLC to sell 42 Road Ranger convenience stores with gas and one Subway location in Illinois, Iowa and Kentucky. GPM took ownership of the stores in March, as CSNews Online previously reported. This move allowed Road Ranger to focus its resources and energies on improving and expanding its network of truck stop and travel center locations in the United States.
Arnold, who was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009, was also passionate about philanthropic causes. According to the Rockford Register Star, he bought Abraham Lincoln's family farm in Coles County, south of Champaign, for $1.25 million in 2007 and then devised a plan to sell penny-sized parcels of the property to the public with the proceeds going to charity.
Road Ranger was a founding sponsor of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, formed to lobby federal legislators and agencies on behalf of the wild herds that roam federal lands in the West.
In addition, Arnold and his company supported dozens of local charities. Last month, Arnold and Puri donated property worth $2.25 million at 1475 S. Perryville Road in Rockford for the Puri Family YMCA.