Under Krause’s leadership, Krause Gentle Corp. was Convenience Store Decisions’ 1998 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.
William Krause, a West Des Moines, Iowa entrepreneur who built Kum & Go, the nation’s fifth largest privately held convenience store chain, died today at 78. Krause passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his family after battling cancer.
Born and raised in Eldora, Iowa, Krause graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Journalism/Public Relations in 1957. Two years later, Krause formed a partnership with his father-in-law, the late T. S. Gentle, and together they pioneered a convenience store concept where townspeople could purchase milk, bread and eggs in addition to gasoline.
Today, Kum & Go employs over 4,600 associates and operates in 11 states with 423 stores. After dedicating 44 years of vision and leadership to the company, Krause retired from Kum & Go on Dec. 31, 2003.
Krause was known for his strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, and his professional career is recognized as both dynamic and influential.
“Dad’s influence in the industry and with his associates and customers built a strong foundation for the company that continues today. He had a huge passion for people, especially Kum & Go associates. His appreciation for people is a legacy we will continue to carry on every day,” said Kyle Krause, CEO of Kum & Go.
Krause positioned Kum & Go for growth with a foundation that focused on people. This passion is evident throughout Kum & Go’s headquarters, where one meeting room, aptly named “WAK”–initials of William A. Krause–exhibits Krause’s words: “People make the difference … and the difference is Kum & Go people.”
“Dad was famous for the many heartfelt and touching letters he wrote to family, friends and Kum & Go associates,” said Kyle Krause. “Many people have files of his letters they have kept throughout the years. He also was a very generous person to anyone in need, which is embodied in his dedication to philanthropic work. Dad leaves a legacy of 50-plus years devoted to a community commitment by sharing 10% of Kum & Go’s profits with charitable and educational causes each year.”
Krause was noted for his love of the University of Iowa as a benefactor devoting his time and financial resources in the support of the Henry B. Tippie College of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Hancher Auditorium and the Iowa Opportunity Fund. He was a life member of the Kinnick Society, which recognizes the most generous annual contributors to UI athletics. He almost never missed an Iowa home football game and he was named Hawk of the Year by the Department of Athletics in 1993. His passion for Iowa football resulted in the lead gift for Kinnick renovation and the naming of the Krause Family Plaza.
Krause was noted for his service on many philanthropic boards and community organizations. His generous support of Junior Achievement of Central Iowa will continue to empower and inspire young people through the W. A. Krause Center for Entrepreneurial Education. He received the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award from the National Catholic Educational Association for his support of Catholic schools in the Des Moines area. Krause was also a proud recipient of the Civitas Award, which is the highest honor bestowed within the Dowling Catholic community for individual dedication and service to the school. His honors also include an Entrepreneurial Spirit Award from the Des Moines Business Record and designation as Iowa-Nebraska Entrepreneur of the Year by national accounting firm Ernst & Young. The U.S. Small Business Administration honored him with the Iowa Entrepreneurial Success Award in 1994.
Krause is survived by his wife, Nancy; son Kevin W. (Mary) Krause of West Des Moines, Iowa; son Kyle J. (Sharon) Krause of Booneville, Iowa; daughter Kate (David) Prange of Chicago, Illinois; and 12 grandchildren: Ryan, A.J., Tanner, Morgan, Elliott, Bo, Oliver, Emily, Ellen, Connor, Amelia and Maeve.
Memorial contributions may be directed to Dowling Catholic High School, Holy Family Catholic Schools and Above + Beyond Cancer.
“Bill was like a second father to me,” said Jeff Winters, a 37-year associate of Kum & Go and a friend of Krause. “He gave me my first job when I was 16 years old, and has been a wonderful mentor and leader. He was also heavily involved in the community, and everyone looked forward to his store visits. Bill loved meeting and working with people, and he always remembered your name.”