Department chain chairman Albert Boscov died of pancreatic cancer on Friday.

In a letter Wednesday to employees of Boscov’s Department Stores, 87-year-old Boscov said “I have pancreatic cancer and there is no cure. I don’t have a lot of time.”

His nephew, Jim Boscov, CEO and company vice chairman, announced the news at about 10 p.m. Friday night. Jim Boscov said the chain would continue to operate as usual — and he said his uncle was still at work Wednesday morning, reviewing proposed advertisement layouts and copy.

Albert Boscov expressed confidence in the company’s leadership. He said earlier this week that as other retailers have had losses and store closures, Boscov’s plans to open two new stores.

He said he wanted this year to be “our best possible year” and wished his co-workers good luck, saying “I love you all.”

Since taking the reins of the family business begun by his father in 1914, Albert Boscov drove the growth of Boscov’s Department stores. Under his leadership, Boscov’s has grown to become the largest family owned department store chain in the country, with sales in excess of $1 billion dollars. The company employs over 7,500.

“Albert Boscov was truly one of the giants in the retail industry, “Jim Boscov CEO, said in a statement. “He was a man of vision and passion and he had a profound influence on the retail business community and the community at large. We are committed to continue on the strong foundation he has created and to carry on in the spirit and philosophy he’s instilled. Building on his legacy we will remain the largest family owned department store in the country.”

Jim Boscov is the third generation of the Boscov family to head the company.

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