Mr. Gerald “Gerry” Totoritis, the former president and CEO of Associated Grocers of the South, based in Birmingham, Alabama, died of a heart attack on April 25. “He had just finished one of his favorite activities, a round of golf with friends at Craft Farms in Gulf Shores,” according to his obituary.
Mr. Totoritis had a successful career in the grocery industry, which spanned more than 40 years. When his children were young, he owned an IGA grocery store in Deruyter, New York. Later, he was the branch president for grocery wholesalers in Laurens, Iowa; York, Pennsylvania; Appleton, Wisconsin; and Omaha, Nebraska. He retired in 2012 after serving as president and CEO of Associated Grocers of the South for 12 years.
He was given many awards throughout his career. Most notably, he received the Spirit of America Award from the National Grocers Association (NGA). He also was on the board of directors of the Alabama Grocers Association, Alabama Retail Association, NGA and Retailer Owned Food Distributors & Associates.
Mr. Totoritis was born in Elmira, New York, to Ottilie Granzer and George Totoritis. His mother remembers how well he did in school and how many friends he always had. Mr. Totoritis has a younger sister, June Knight, who lives in Elmira, and a brother, Rick Totoritis, who passed away as a young man.
Mr. Totoritis married Anna Ottenschot in February 1975. They have two children: Jennifer, 38, of Mound, Minnesota, and her husband Brad Searl; and Jeffrey, 36, of Helsinki, Finland, and his wife Andrea Schiefelbein. Mr. Totoritis also is survived by two grandchildren, Ottile, 2, and Warren, 4 months. Mr. Totoritis also was the primary caregiver to his mother, who is 89 years old and lives with the family in Gulf Shores.
In addition, Mr. Totoritis loved hunting, fishing, golf and following sports. He paid attention to the little things about the people he loved. Most recently he was learning the names of all of the cartoon characters on “Peppa Pig,” his granddaughter’s favorite cartoon. He was constantly thinking of how he could better the lives of his loved ones, according to his obituary.
Anna says, “As a wife of 42 years, Gerry was my best friend. He was an extremely loving and generous man. His sense of humor and light heartedness made life very stress free and happy.”
Ottilie says, “As his mother, he was my first born, my great joy. He never gave us any trouble. He looked out for his siblings because he was four years older than his next kin. He had many friends and did very well in school. I was always very proud of him. I will miss him very much.”
Jennifer says, “As his daughter, I know that my father was one of the most influential people in my life. He taught me values and lessons such as hard work ethic, generosity and how to be a good listener. I will pass these values on to my own children.”
Jeffrey says, “I could never ask for anything more in a father. My dad was a great friend, a great teacher, a great man and a great father. I learned so much from him in terms of how to treat people and I hope to always be respected the way he was. His first priority was caring for those that were close to him.”
Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 6, at Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church in Gulf Shores. Cason Funeral Service in Foley, Alabama, is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers there will be a memorial fund in Mr. Totoritis’ honor that will be used for his grandchildren’s and future grandchildren’s college educations.
“The Shelby Report”
April 28, 2017