Mark Stephen Wetterau, Sr., age 65, a prominent philanthropist, business and civic leader, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family, on May 8, 2023.
Mark was born on January 26, 1958, at Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, to Ted C. Wetterau and Helen Killion Wetterau. Helen called him her “little bear” as she held him while watching the heavy snowfall from her window. Mark excelled in sports, including ice hockey and tennis. From a young age, he was intrigued with mechanical devices, mastering yoyo tricks and small engine repairs. His love of motor works grew as he began his lifelong hobby of restoring and building cars and boats. He graduated from Horton Watkins High School in Ladue, Missouri, in 1976. Mark attended Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1980. He was a dedicated brother of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and employed as the campus representative for Miller Brewing Company. Mark met Virginia Dean, a Chi Omega at William Woods College in Fulton, and they began a beautiful lifelong courtship.
Mark and Ginny married in 1983, and together, they raised three wonderful children. Many of their most cherished times were spent with their family and friends boating, water skiing, snow skiing, and traveling. They especially enjoyed their traditions at the Lake of the Ozarks and Deer Valley. As dedicated Presbyterians, Mark and Ginny shared a deep faith and commitment to God and their church.
Mark joined St. Louis-based Wetterau Inc., a family-run business since 1869. During his tenure at the company, Mark served in various leadership roles, including President and Chief Operating Officer and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Shop ‘n Save. Working closely with his father, Ted, and brother Conrad, Mark helped the enterprise grow from $1 billion to more than $8 billion in annual revenue.
After his time at Wetterau Inc., Mark co-founded Wetterau Associates, LLC, which established and purchased a number of businesses, including Quality Beverage, where Mark served as Chairman and CEO from 1993 to 1998. Wetterau Associates then purchased Golden State Foods in 1998. Mark served as Chairman and CEO from 1998 to 2023. During his 25 years of leadership, Mark led the company to incredible growth, from $1.4 billion to more than $7 billion in annual revenue. Wetterau Associates also founded Argos, a wealth management company. Mark was honored with dozens of awards and recognitions for his outstanding leadership in business.
Mark was known for his ethical, values-based leadership. Each organization he led was based on treating others with dignity and respect and seeking the success of all stakeholders—a business philosophy established by his father. Passionate about community involvement and charitable service, Mark chaired and served on numerous non-profit boards throughout the country. Mark’s proudest accomplishment was establishing the GSF Foundation, which helps children and families in need in the areas where GSF associates live and work. Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has raised more than $60 million to support 850 children’s charities and schools throughout the United States.
Mark will be affectionately remembered by his family and friends as a loving father, caring grandfather, beloved husband, as well as a high-spirited, genuine friend with a quest for adventure and a generous heart for service. His grandchildren will have memories of their time shared with “Papo.” His colleagues will remember Mark as a charismatic, energetic leader and mentor who inspired his fellow associates and friends to achieve more than they ever thought possible, as they sought to “walk the talk,” as he would say. Always seeking to help others, Mark typically ended his conversations by sincerely asking, “What can I do for you?”
Mark is survived and deeply missed by Virginia, his wife of 39 years; his three children, M. Stephen Wetterau, Jr., Elizabeth W. Bakman (Shaymus), and Olivia W. Luce (Bryn); his three grandchildren, Dean, Cole, and Lily Bakman; his brother, T. Conrad Wetterau (Marguerite), and his sister, Elizabeth W. Harbison (Keith) and his nieces and nephews.
A private family burial service will be held in St. Louis on Saturday, May 27, 2023. A Celebration of Life will be live streamed from Southern California on June 24, 2023. For more details, please visit goldenstatefoods.com/mark-wetterau-celebration-of-life/.