Jon Flora, who has served as president of Fry’s Food Stores of Arizona since 2007, died Friday, according to several sources. He was 58.

Flora’s warmth was conveyed to customers through ads and in-store promotions. As a longtime company employee who rose through the ranks, he was held in high regard by many employees.

Tolleson-based Fry’s employs 18,000 in Arizona.

Fry’s is a division of the Kroger Co., and Flora served in several leadership positions with Kroger during a career spanning more than 40 years.

He guided several Kroger divisions as a senior vice president and served as the president of the company’s Great Lakes division. He began his career in 1971 with the company’s Dillon stores.

Donna Tanori, the grocer’s director of human resources, remarked this year about Flora’s popularity. When he visited individual stores, she said, employees asked for his autograph.

According to a 2008 story in the Arizona Food Industry Journal, Flora spent his first 120 days with Fry’s traveling the state to visit each store in the chain.

“This is a very sad time for all of us in the Fry’s and Kroger family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jon Flora’s family and friends at this difficult time. His leadership, compassion, customer-first mentality and deep-seated commitment to the Arizona community are his lasting hallmarks — something we all hope to carry on in his honor,” Fry’s posted on its Facebook page.

As news of Flora’s death spread, a number of Arizonans, including Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale, took to Twitter to express their condolences.

“As many of you know I work for Fry’s Food Stores,” Larkin tweeted.

“It saddens me to say that my CEO Jon Flora passed away from a heart attack today.”

Flora was also active in the community. In March he was honored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix as a “true champion for children in need.”

On Facebook, another charity recognized Flora.

“St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance sends condolences to Jon Flora’s family and everyone at Fry’s Food Stores. Jon was a hero in the fight against hunger. He touched many people’s lives and will be missed.”