In Memoriam: Marlene Lacy, A Way of Life Natural Foods, 1936-2021

A pioneer in the industry has passed. Marlene Lacy, owner of A Way of Life Natural Foods in Niles, IL, for 41 years, died on August 29, 2021. Marlene’s obituary in the Chicago Tribune recounts how important Marlene was to those who knew her, including her customers:

The last of a bygone era, Marlene remembered the name of every customer, possessing both a near photographic memory and love of helping others. She helped thousands live better and happier lives. Marlene introduced to N.W. Chicagoland in the 1970’s the, then radical, idea that nutrition was impactful in health and life. She was revered by her customers, many of whom came from all over the region to tap into her vast, encyclopedic knowledge of vitamins and herbs, often forming deep, long-term friendships.

WholeFoods Magazine shared a story of Marlene’s dedication to helping others live healthier, happier lives–and revealed a key secret to her success–in a column published in 2018. Though she was 82 at that time, she was still working 11 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week at A Way of Life. Her son Fred shared: “She remembers the names of all her customers. Been a success, even in the era of internet and chains, because of the personal touch. How often does anybody walk into a store today and hear: ‘Hello Mr. Jones, how’s your wife’s bursitis?’ Plus, she reads all the trades and keeps up. The personal touch is the only way the independent will thrive in today’s world, and she’s proved it!”

According to the Chicago Tribune, a memorial lunch is being planned in Marlene’s honor for October 16, 2021 (find more information here). Instead of flowers or cards, her loved ones ask: Simply live as Marlene wished: happy and healthy.