HALIFAX -- Donald Sobey, former Empire president and son of the Sobey’s grocery chain founder has died.

Sobey was 86 years old. The company his father founded publicly announced his death on Wednesday.

"Donald’s impact on the Empire group of companies was profound. He was a brilliant businessperson, and his legacy of value creation speaks for itself," wrote Jim Dickson, the chair of Empire Company Limited, in a media release Wednesday.

"But beyond his success in business, Donald was someone who cared deeply for his community, giving his time, energy, and resources to support so many important causes across the country. The impact of his generosity will certainly be felt for generations to come. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him," he added.

Sobey was born in Stellarton, N.S. on Oct. 23, 1934, and along with his brothers Bill and David, joined his father in business early in his life.

He joined Empire's Board of Directors in 1963, before becoming president in 1969, then chair in 1985.

He retired in 2004, but kept a chair emeritus role in the company. 

Sobey was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2014, and held over 10 honourary degrees from universities across the country.

"Donald was a great businessperson as well as a visionary philanthropist who believed in nurturing Canadian artists and supporting the next generation of leaders," said Michael Medline, president and CEO of Empire in Wednesday’s media release. "We will all miss him."

Sobey is survived by survived by his wife Beth, three children, and five grandchildren.