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To many who live in Lakeville, Enggren's Market was more than just a place to get groceries. It was a gathering place for neighbors and the anchor of the city's downtown.

The community lost the iconic supermarket on Holyoke Avenue when it closed its doors in 2006. And last month, the community said goodbye to Jerome (Jerry) Enggren, the benevolent man whose family had operated the store for more than 100 years. Enggren died April 16 at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina after a long illness. He was 80.

Founded by his grandfather in 1906, the store was an icon in the community, as was Jerry, who sold locally grown produce and made sure that seniors and those in need got free turkeys for Thanksgiving, said Wally Potter of the Lakeville Historical Society.

"He was one of the kindest people in the community for his entire lifetime," said Glenn Nord, a Lakeville attorney and family friend. "There is not a single Girl Scout group, church, Little League team or civic organization that has not received contributions for their activity, team or organization."

Scores of teenagers got their first job at the store, which over time expanded from a tiny grocery and dry-goods outlet to a full-fledged supermarket. Enggren's goal was to see the business make it to 100 years, and he did, said his wife of 54 years, Doreen, of Lakeville.

"A piece of Lakeville's living history has left us," said friend Jackie McNelis Seurer, of Lakeville. "He always would greet a person when you ran into him and he had such the sense of humor."

The grocery store's closing four years ago helped pave the way for a recent makeover of Lakeville's downtown. Several new businesses have set up shop in the space formerly occupied by Enggren, who also ran a clothing store in downtown Lakeville.

"His contributions went way beyond the store," said Steve Mielke, Lakeville's city administrator.

Born in Lakeville, Enggren graduated from high school there in 1948, then enlisted in the Army. He was stationed in Germany for three years before he returned home to attend the Minnesota School of Business. He took over the family store and "quietly went about his business," his wife said.

But Enggren was not shy when it came to advocating for Lakeville. He was proud of his hometown and was among those who started Pan-O-Prog, the city's annual July 4th celebration, which promotes Lakeville as an industrial city, his wife said.

Enggren was a member of the Lakeville Lions Club, and a longtime member of St. John's Lutheran Church, where he was baptized, confirmed, married and buried, Doreen said.

In addition to his wife, Enggren is survived by a daughter, Jody Braun of Lakeville; two sons, Wade of Tofte, Minn., and Mark of Lakeville; a sister, Shirlee Scott-Sandvik, of Minneapolis; a brother, John, of Lakeville; nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Services have been held.