Charles W. Lubin, who got his first job scraping pans in a bakery at age 14 and went on to found the Kitchens of Sara Lee 37 years ago, has died of a heart attack. He was 84.
Lubin suffered the attack while driving his car in downtown Chicago and was pronounced dead at 6:37 p.m. Friday at Northwestern Hospital. Funeral plans were incomplete Saturday.Lubin began the Kitchens of Sara Lee - named for his then 1-year-old daughter - in 1951 with only $21,000 and 2,000 square feet of space.
Baking only cheesecakes, which then sold for 79 cents each, Lubin grossed $400,000 in his first year.. Five years later, the Kitchens of Sara Lee had expanded to other kinds of cakes and brownies with annual sales of $9 million.
Lubin, born on Nov. 16, 1903, in Chicago, perfected a process by which his baked goods were frozen in metal pans, then rushed to store freezers so "all the housewife had to do was pick it up and heat it," he once explained.
He sold the Kitchens of Sara Lee to Consolidated Foods Inc., now Sara Lee Corp., for $2.8 million in 1956. He retained the position of president of the corporation but left in 1964 after a dispute over the financing of a new plant in Deerfield, Ill.
In 1968 Lubin received the Rags to Riches Horatio Alger award at ceremonies at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
He also served on the boards of directors of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls as well as Nabisco, CFS Continental and Unarco companies.
He is survived by his wife, Tillie; his daughter, Sara Lee Schupf; a sister and four grandchildren.