Fairfield County entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of the Caldor department store chain, Carl Bennett, has died at the age of 101.
Bennett died at his home in Greenwich on Thursday, Dec. 23.
The Caldor empire came to be while working with his late wife, Dorothy Bennett, who together turned an $8,000 military salary savings into a chain of discount department stores that spanned from the 1950s to the mid-1980s when he sold his 120 store business to Associated Dry Goods.
Raised above his father's grocery store located in Greenwich, on Steamboat Road, Bennett Grocers, with his two sisters and two brothers, Bennett credited his love of retailing with his father who encouraged him at an early age to be his own boss.
He graduated from Greenwich High School and attended New York University. He served in WWII from 1942-1945 in the 466th Quartermaster Battalion.
Upon returning home from his tour of duty, he became a wholesale liquor salesman for Connecticut Distributors in Norwalk.
Through family connections, he met Dorothy Becker, of Forest Hills. They soon married. While they were shopping together at E.J. Korvettes Department Store, Bennett realized his dream--to open his own discount store, combining his name with Dorothy's—Caldor.
With his $8,000.00 from his military duty in hand, Bennett went to the Union Trust, a local Greenwich bank where met Harold Rider, the president, who believed in his vision in discount retailing and loaned him $50,000.00.
The Bennetts opened their first store in 1951, in a walk-up loft in Westchester County in Port Chester. They soon expanded to Stamford, Norwalk, and Riverside.
In 1961, Caldor became publicly traded on the American Stock Exchange and he moved his company headquarters to Glover Ave. in Norwalk.
In addition to their stores, the couple were known for their commitment to the community and gave generously to numerous hospitals and organizations.
Bennett is survived by his three children: Marc of Stamford, Robin (Joseph Kanarek) of Greenwich, Bruce (Jennifer) of Rochester, New York, and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by Dorothy in 2008.
Services have already been held.
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