Empire Celebrates and Recognizes the Tremendous Legacy of Donald C. R. Sobey

Stellarton, NS – The Board of Directors of Empire Company Limited (“Empire” or the “Company”) (TSX:EMP.A) announced the passing of Donald Creighton Rae Sobey, C.M., Chair Emeritus of the Company. He was 86 years old.

“Donald’s impact on the Empire group of companies was profound. He was a brilliant businessperson, and his legacy of value creation speaks for itself,” said Jim Dickson, Chair, Empire Company Limited. “But beyond his success in business, Donald was someone who cared deeply for his community, giving his time, energy, and resources to support so many important causes across the country. The impact of his generosity will certainly be felt for generations to come. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

Like his brothers Bill and David before him, Donald Sobey was introduced to the family business at an early age. After graduating from Queen’s University in 1957, Donald joined his father and brothers in the business, first in real estate financing for the rapidly expanding Sobeys grocery business and then with the Empire Company Limited which had been set up to diversify the family’s business interests. He joined Empire’s Board of Directors in 1963, before being appointed President in 1969 and Chair in 1985. In September 2004, he retired as Chair and was named Chair Emeritus, continuing to be actively engaged in the business as a member of the Board of Directors until 2015. Donald’s legacy includes a student scholarship he created for educational opportunities, artists who he supported throughout their careers, and countless other individuals and organizations he felt privileged to work alongside throughout his philanthropic endeavours.

Donald is survived by his wife, Beth, his three children, and five grandchildren. 

“Empire and Sobeys owe so much to the leadership, business acumen, and passion of Donald,” said Michael Medline, President and CEO, Empire. “On behalf of all of our teammates across Canada, I want to extend our collective heartfelt condolences to his wife Beth and their children and grandchildren. Donald was a great businessperson as well as a visionary philanthropist who believed in nurturing Canadian artists and supporting the next generation of leaders. We will all miss him.”


Empire Company Limited (TSX: EMP.A) is a Canadian company headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. Empire’s key businesses are food retailing, through wholly owned subsidiary Sobeys Inc., and related real estate. With approximately $28.4 billion in annualized sales and $15.0 billion in assets, Empire and its subsidiaries, franchisees, and affiliates employ approximately 127,000 people.