Gordon and Lezlie Sanders, stalwarts of Associated Food Stores (AFS) for decades, bid farewell to their illustrious careers, retiring on the same day after 76 combined years of dedicated service. Their retirement marks the end of an era characterized by impressive commitment, exemplary leadership and invaluable contributions to the organization. 

Their journey together began at a Super Bowl party in 1986, where they met and a few months later were married. Little did they know this chance encounter would lay the foundation for a lifelong partnership and shared dedication to their family and their careers at AFS. 

Gordon Sanders began at AFS in 1981 as a warehouse team member. Starting in the Food Service warehouse, Gordon loaded racks before transitioning to the freezer, where he assumed responsibility for frozen bread. After managing Cash and Carry, Gordon moved to Convenience Direct, where he played a pivotal role in the company’s service to convenience stores at the time. Subsequently, Gordon’s expertise led him to procurement, where he worked on reclaim and sales lift alongside industry veterans Brian Duff, Gary Lund, and Gary Angel. In 2008, Gordon took on the role of category manager of general merchandise, overseeing the GM lines and countless store team members’ visits to the GM shows at the corporate office over the years. 

Meanwhile, Lezlie Sanders embarked on her journey with AFS in 1990, during an era dominated by handwritten or typewriter-produced memorandums. Starting as a part-time microfiche clerk in accounts receivable, Lezlie’s meticulous attention to detail and commitment to mastering every aspect of her role quickly earned her recognition. Through her dedication and diligence, she advanced to the finance department, excelling in the preparation of loan documents. In 1995, Lezlie’s exceptional work ethic caught the attention of President and CEO Rich Parkinson, who personally selected her as corporate secretary. Throughout her nearly 36 years at AFS, Lezlie’s trusted leadership, organizational prowess and strong relationships with member owners and team members alike have been instrumental in driving success and cohesion company-wide. Her deep-seated passion for ensuring smooth operations and maintaining a harmonious work environment has left an indelible mark on the organization, making her a beloved and deeply respected figure. 

The Sanders’ retirement signifies the culmination of remarkable careers marked by dedication, excellence and service. Their profound impact on AFS, its member retailers and team members will be felt for years to come, and their legacy of leadership and commitment will continue inspiring future generations within the organization. 

Gordon and Lezlie have two daughters, two granddaughters and a grandson and look forward to spending more time with them among their other pursuits as they begin their next chapter together. 

“We feel so fortunate to have been part of the AFS family,” said Gordon. “The hardest part for both of us will be missing the people. There are so many people who have been so good to us over the years. We are so lucky to have been part of it.”