NEW ORLEANS — Sydney Johnson Besthoff, who had led the seven-state Katz & Besthoff drugstore chain until he sold the business in 1997, died Saturday at his New Orleans home of heart failure, the family said. He was 94 years old.
He was the third generation to run Katz & Besthoff, which his grandfather, Sydney Besthoff, founded with Gustave Katz in 1905. By the time of the sale to Rite Aid Corp., K&B, as it came to be known, operated 200 stores with about 4,500 employees and did about $750 million in business annually, his wife, Walda Besthoff said, adding that the K&B network constituted the largest privately held drugstore chain in the United States.
In 1963, Besthoff represented the National Association of Chain Drug Stores at a White House conference that helped plan what became the Civil Rights Bill. By that time, Walda Besthoff said, he was in a group of local leaders who integrated their food-service counters.
In addition to his wife, survivors include three daughters, Virginia Besthoff, of New Orleans and Charlotte, Vermont, and Valerie Besthoff and Jane Steiner, both of New Orleans; a sister, Jon Strauss of New Orleans; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.