William A. "Bill" Krause, the West Des Moines entrepreneur who built Kum & Go LC, 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.

 

Krause was known for his strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, and his professional career is recognized as both dynamic and influential. In 2005, Convenience Store Petroleum Magazine named Krause one of the top 10 most influential CEOs, and in 2008, the publication named Krause the industry's Retail Leader of the Year.

 

Formerly known as Krause Gentle Corp., the family-owned company opened its first store in Hampton, Iowa in 1959. The company now employs more than 4,600 associates and operates in 11 states with 423 stores. Krause retired from Kum & Go on Dec. 31, 2003, after more than 44 years at the company's helm.

 

"Dad's influence in the industry and with his associates and customers built a strong foundation for the company that continues today," said Kyle Krause, CEO of Kum & Go. "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."

 

The Iowa native was born and raised in Eldora, and graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism and public relations in 1957. Two years later, Krause formed a partnership with his father-in-law, T.S. Gentle, and together they pioneered a convenience store concept where townspeople could purchase milk, bread and eggs in addition to gasoline.

 

"Bill was one of Iowa's great entrepreneurs who started and grew Kum & Go into an industry leader that is one of Iowa's iconic companies," said Steven Zumbach, an attorney, Kum & Go board member and friend of Krause. "He was also one of Iowa's most generous corporate citizens."

 

Krause was noted for his service on many philanthropic boards and community organizations, including his generous support of Junior Achievement of Central Iowa through the W. A. Krause Center for Entrepreneurial Education. He was also known 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.

 

"Bill loved life and I loved that about him," said Dan Keough, CEO of Holmes Murphy & Associates Inc. "I am thankful and proud to call him one of my mentors and my friend. Whether it was taking care of his employees or giving back to his community, Bill was a great example of passion, integrity, teamwork, caring, and excellence. ... He will be greatly missed."

 

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; and 12 grandchildren.

 

Memorial contributions may be directed to Dowling Catholic High School, Holy Family Catholic Schools and Above + Beyond Cancer.