Known for: Raley parlayed a small Placerville store that opened in 1935 into one of the largest supermarket chains in the West.
Background: An Arkansas native, Raley was the 13th of 14 children of a Baptist preacher and farmer. After graduating from business college in Springfield, Mo., he moved to Los Angeles and went to work for an ice and cold-storage firm. He later was a store manager for Safeway Stores in San Francisco. With less than $1,000 in capital, Raley opened his first store in El Dorado County. He advertised his store as "the nation's first drive-in market." In 1942, he opened stores in Sacramento. His innovations included a self-service meat counter and debuting the "superstore" concept which merged markets and drugstores. The company, which in 1993 purchased the Bel Air chain and in 1998 the Nob Hill Foods chain, owns 116 stores in California and 13 in northern Nevada.
A highlight: Speaking about his life, Raley once told an interviewer, "My business is my vocation, my recreation. It's my everything. When I want to relax, I go down to my stores."
In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.