James Nicholas Sumas - Owner, Operator, and Chairman Emeritus of Village Super Market, Inc.
James Nicholas Sumas, 84, of Morristown, beloved husband, devoted father, loving grandfather, loyal brother, countless friend and mentor to so many, passed away peacefully in Morristown, NJ on July 7, 2018. James or Jimmy (affectionately known by so many) is survived by the love of his life, his wife, Helen Sumas (nee Dillon); his daughter Dr. MariaElaina (Mia) Sumas (Patrick Baker) his daughter Stephanie Sumas, his son John James Sumas (Dr. Alexandra Liggatt), and his grandsons Theodore-James Sumas, and James Beau Sumas. He is also survived by his brother Robert Sumas (Deana), sister-in-law Harriet Pallantios (Pete), along with a very large extended and loving Greek family. Jimmy is also predeceased by his brother Sturgis Sumas. Jimmy loved his family, his church, and his “Village Family” more than anything. He made it a point to lead by example, never complain, and always do his best no matter the circumstance.
Jimmy was born in Newark, NJ on October 24th, 1933. He was the first son to Greek immigrants Nicholas and Athena Sumas. Jimmy was a lover of baseball (a life-long Cardinals fan), and an avid poker player. As a youngster he loved working in his father Nick, and his Uncle Perry’s market while he attended Columbia High School. Always working and thriving in the family’s grocery store, he continued his education at Seton Hall University earning his business degree in 1955. Jimmy then decided to serve his country and enlist in the U.S. Army for the next two years. In 1957 he came home to dedicate himself to his family, and to his work. He had passion and a natural mind for business and quickly began to lead the Sumas family into its growth phase by opening ShopRite supermarket locations throughout the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, and beyond. As Village ShopRite expanded, so did Jimmy’s dedication in doing the right thing by the customer - offering the best products, at the best possible value. Jimmy took pride in the fact that families that couldn’t afford much could shop in his stores and still provide quality food for their loved ones.
Over the course of his lifetime Jimmy and his wife Helen remained constant, and loyal supporters to the Ss. Nicholas, Constantine, and Helen Greek Orthodox church always believing in the church’s vision “To provide a loving community where all are one with Christ through worship, learning, outreach, and fellowship.” Jimmy continued his father Nicholas’ legacy by serving as President of the church and presiding over the merger of St. Nicholas of Newark, and St. Constantine and Helen of Orange. The construction of the new church in Roseland would not have been possible without Jimmy’s guidance, and support.
Jimmy Sumas was elected as the Village Chairman of the Board in 1989. He was named Chief Executive Officer in 2002. He served variously as Vice President, Treasurer and a Director of the Company since its incorporation in 1955. Jimmy also served as Vice Chairman of Wakefern Food Corporation and was a member of its Board of Directors for over 30 years. Jimmy also served as the Chairman of Wakefern’s Grocery Committee and its Advertising Committee. In addition, he served as Vice Chairman of Wakefern’s Sales and Merchandising Committee and of ShopRite Supermarkets, Inc., Wakefern’s supermarket operating subsidiary. Jimmy was also a member of Wakefern’s Trade Name and Trademark, Strategic Planning and Customer Satisfaction Committees.
An icon in the supermarket industry, Jimmy Sumas helped define the landscape of the business by dedicating his passion, heart, and soul to his work. This tireless work ethic, brilliant understanding of the market place, and intuitive grasp of the customer’s needs made him a natural leader. At Wakefern, Jimmy was always one of the most trusted forms of counsel on the Board of Directors. He became Wakefern’s Grocery Committee Chairman in 1957 and commanded that post for nearly 60 years. This was a position that he loved. It allowed him to interact with other leaders in the supermarket industry, other ShopRite members, and his colleagues at Wakefern. He loved educating those at the Grocery committee in a way that only he was able to do, by combining his vast knowledge with his quick wit to provide a valuable lesson to those willing to listen. Countless people recall these interactions with love, fondness, and respect.
If you ask anybody at Village Super Market, Jimmy is a legend. If you were lucky enough to learn from him you considered those moments special. Always known as “The Boss”, “Mr. Jimmy”, or “Mr. Sumas”, he was a true mentor to so many Store Managers and Village associates across decades of service. Often calling younger associates “buddy”, or “kid” he always commanded both love and respect – something many people try to accomplish, but only a small number actually do. He was a patriarch, and a beloved leader to so many Village and Wakefern employees. He will forever be missed, but will always remain in the hearts of those he touched.
Relatives and friends are invited for visitation on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 from 4-8 pm and Thursday, July 12, 2018 from 2-4 & 6-9 pm at Sts. Nicholas, Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 80 Laurel Avenue, Roseland, NJ 07068.
A Funeral Ceremony will be offered on Friday, July 13, 2018 at 11 am in the church with entombment to follow at Somerset Hills Memorial Park in Basking Ridge, NJ.
Funeral Services are entrusted to Farmer Funeral Home, Roseland, NJ. Condolences and memories may be shared at farmerfuneral.com.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Ss. Nicholas, Constantine, and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, c/o Mortgage Fund, in Roseland, NJ in honor of Jimmy’s memory.