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November 16, 2018

Charles F. Canning Jr., family patriarch and business leader, dies

Courtesy / Canning family
Courtesy / Canning family
Charles F. Canning Jr., retired CEO of Pine State Trading, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 13. He was 83.

The Canning family announced Thursday that Charles F. Canning Jr., retired CEO of Pine State Trading, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 13. He was 83.

From small beginnings under Canning's leadership, Pine State Trading grew into a regional powerhouse, while being recognized as one of Maine's most prominent employers

While leading Pine State from a small local Maine distributor of convenience store products and beverages to a regional powerhouse, the family said Canning, who was best known as "Charlie," was extremely loyal and respectful to all his employees and those he did business with. He never forgot his roots and the value of the people he worked with, which is one of the core values that has guided the family-owned company for three generations.

He raised six children: Marybeth, Charlie, Alice, Gena, Keith and Kevin. Through the years, several family members were employed at Pine State. Today, Gena, Keith and Charlie's nephew Nick remain actively involved in the company.

"The dedication and loyalty of Pine State's employees throughout Charlie's career is a significant part of his legacy," Pine State Trading CEO Nick Alberding said in a statement. "He will be remembered by family, friends and former employees as fiercely competitive, extremely loyal, quick-witted and smart, with an uncanny instinct to always do the right thing. On a more personal note, my Uncle Charlie was a mentor and father figure to me for most of my life, and I thank him dearly for that."

Gena Canning, who was honored by Mainebiz as a "Woman to Watch" in 2015, added, "My dad was always an inspiration to all of his children and grandchildren. We continue to strive to live his values every day and pledge to never settle for 'good enough'. He valued excellence in all things and we are proud to carry on his legacy."

Charlie's son, Keith, offered this memory: "My dad was a visionary, always looking for innovative solutions to market and distribute products. He was very intentional in every decision. He was always mindful to never take on too much debt or risk the future of the company and its employees. It was an honor for me to join my father in the family business and to be part of its growth and success throughout the years."

Canning was born in Portland, Maine and grew up in Augusta. He graduated from Providence College and spent several years as an officer in the U.S. Navy. Together with his brother Jack and a long list of dedicated and loyal people, Pine State grew to a nationally-recognized leader in its industry.

Throughout his career Canning received numerous awards, including the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year, as well as the chamber's Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also named a "Miller Legend" by the Miller Brewing Co..

Canning's charitable priorities included MaineGeneral Health, the Kennebec Valley YMCA, the Mitchell Institute and a scholarship endowment for the children of Pine State employees.

A funeral service for Charles F. Canning Jr. will be held at St. Mary's Church, Western Avenue, Augusta, on Monday, Nov. 19, at 11 a.m. Immediately following the service there will be a reception at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester.

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