SYLMAR, CALIF. – Miguel Gonzalez, a founder/owner of Vallarta Supermarkets, a California retail chain known for its fresh and Latin American offerings, died Nov. 23 as the result of a car accident. He was 56.

“Miguel was known for his winsome smile and a twinkle in his eye that reflected his charismatic personality, one that brought joy and excitement to all who would share experiences with him,” according to Vallarta. “Many business associates knew Miguel as a grocery store entrepreneur but may not have known his other passions, which led up to his success in building a legacy within the grocery industry.”

A native of Jalostotitlan, Jalisco, Mexico, Gonzalez worked as a quality assurance technician at Pasadena, Calif.-based Jet Propulsion Laboratories before leaving to start Vallarta Supermarkets with his family. 

“Miguel’s passion in building the Vallarta Supermarkets family business was contagious and he corralled anyone he could partner with to enjoy the journey. On record he was 56 years young. However, his youthful personality reflected that of an exuberant 20-year-old who enjoyed life. His life motto was ‘Work hard and play harder’ and shared enjoying life to the fullest with all.”