Tucson businessman, UA athletics booster George Kalil dies at age 81

George Kalil, president of Kalil Bottling Co. who grew up learning the business from his father and grandfather, died Wednesday night. He was 81.

“He died at his home after an illness,” said his younger brother John Kalil, 67, vice president and general manager of the Phoenix location.

The younger Kalil said George was his mentor. “He taught me everything from production to warehousing to selling. And, the most important part was building relationships with everyone,” said John Kalil.

“The thing with George is that he knew so many people and he was in love with the bottling industry, and following the UA basketball team was his vacation,” said his brother.

“He was on ’60 Minutes’ back in the ’80s. A crew came to Tucson and filmed George in his office at 931 S. Highland Ave. about the beverage industry. That was very significant. They spoke to an independent bottler about issues in the industry,” recalled John Kalil.

In 1948, the brothers’ father Fred, and their grandfather, Frank, founded Kalil Bottling Co. in Tucson, according to the company’s web site. The original building was on Fifth Street and Frank and his wife lived in the house next door, their kitchen serving as the original syrup mixing room.

More than seven decades later, Kalil Bottling operates out of four locations and across the Southwest, with the support of more than 700 employees, third- and fourth-generation family members, and a large truck and vehicle fleet, states the web site.

Services are pending.

Subscribe for just 23¢ per week
  • Support quality journalism
  • Get unlimited access to tucson.com and apps
  • No more surveys blocking articles

More video from this section

%d bloggers like this: