William Krause, the co-founder of Iowa-based convenience store chain Kum & Go, who died in West Des Moines Wednesday after battling cancer, was recognized for his business acumen and generosity to employees by a Marshalltown businessman who knew him extremely well.
Trent Vogel had been a close friend of Krause for years, he said.
"Today is a sad day for Iowa," Vogel said. "Bill was a visionary and a smart, hard working individual. He came from very humble beginnings and went on to became a pioneer and legend in the convenience store business."
Vogel said he met Krause in the 1950s when both were students at the University of Iowa.
"I met him initially in the Airliner (an Iowa City tavern) and later, when I was hitchhiking back to Marshalltown, he gave me a ride home. We became good friends."
Krause, an Eldora native, parlayed an investment from his father-in-law and turned it into the fifth largest privately held convenience store in the United States with 423 stores and 4,600 associates.
Vogel said Krause was noted not only for his entrepreneurial talents, but for his philanthropic interests as well.
Krause had appeared in Marshalltown on several occasions, speaking before civic groups and others.
"I am profoundly saddened and know Bill will be greatly missed by those who knew him," Vogel said.
Krause opened a family-owned store in Hampton in 1959 and expanded on the idea that customers could buy milk, bread and eggs at the same place as their gasoline.
After 44 years of service, Krause retired from the company in 2003. He was a member of many philanthropic boards and community organizations. His strong support for the University of Iowa included a donation toward the renovation of Kinnick Stadium.
Krause is survived by his wife, Nancy, three children and 12 grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.