Under his leadership, the Bradford-based supermarket chain Morrisons became a major national brand.
But fame and fortune never changed him. He remained the same honest, approachable figure with a relentless commitment to customer service.
Yesterday, the people who knew him best gathered to witness the unveiling of a statue of Sir Ken at Morrisons’ headquarters in Bradford.
Friends and colleagues gathered at a private ceremony to honour a man who epitomised all that is best about Yorkshire.
Sir Ken, who died in 2017 aged 85, had an early introduction to the family business.
The sixth child and only son of William Morrison, he worked alongside his father on the family’s stall in Bradford’s Rawson Market from the age of five.
His first job was to “candle” the eggs – holding them up against a flame to check for any defects.
He left school at 18 to help his father build up the business. When his father became ill, he returned from doing National Service in Germany in 1952 to run the business rather than see it sold.
Under his leadership, Morrisons grew into a supermarket chain and completed a bold £3bn takeover of Safeway in 2004, which placed it among the corporate giants.
He was knighted in the New Year Honours List in 2001 and lived in a French-style chateau in Myton-on-Swale, near Boroughbridge.
Speaking at the unveiling, Andrew Higginson, the chairman of Morrisons, said: “Sir Ken was a giant of the industry. He built a remarkable business that we are proud to be stewards of today.”
Before unveiling the statue, Tony King, who has worked for 42 years at Morrisons, said: “It’s a great honour to do this and an even greater honour to have known Sir Ken for all those years.”