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Thursday, July 11, 2019

George Kalil, President of Kalil Bottling Co., died Wednesday night at the age of 81.  

George was a family man, an independent bottler, entrepreneur, innovator, University of Arizona basketball super-fan, and community leader.

George grew up in the soft drink industry, dedicating himself to the family business since the age of ten.  He took control of certain aspects of Kalil Bottling Co. as early as high school, worked his way up to Vice President in 1960, was named President in 1970, and has run the company through present day.  

Under George's tutelage, Kalil Bottling Co.'s operations have expanded into all of Arizona, much of New Mexico, the El Paso area of Texas and the Durango area of Colorado.  The company now bottles and/or distributes more than 20 carbonated soft drinks, waters, sports drinks and other non-alcoholic premium beverages to millions of people, including George's beloved RC Cola.  

With George at the helm, Kalil Bottling Co. became the first bottler in the country to offer a caffeine and sodium-free cola, a staple item on any grocery shelf today.


George served on the Board of Directors for the American Beverage Association in Washington D.C.  He was President of the Royal Crown Bottlers Association and served on the Board of Directors for the SevenUp Bottlers Association.  He was a founding member of both the Tucson Fiesta Bowl Committee and the Arizona Beverage Industry Recycling Program.

George was inducted into the global soft drink community's Beverage Industry Hall of Fame in 1992, and has received many notable accolades over the years, including Beverage Industry's "Executive of the Year" in 1998, the Retail Grocers Association of Arizona's "Supplier of the Year" in 1991, "Arizona Small Business Person of the Year" in 1981, and the Exchange Club of Tucson's Golden Service Award in 1979.  He was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

George was well-known as the University of Arizona basketball team's "Number One Fan," and one of the few fans to receive a championship ring when UofA won the NCAA National Championship in 1997.  He attended all home games and traveled with the team for 45 years, missing only 12 games in that time span.  Friends and family often said that George Kalil was married to Kalil Bottling Co. and that the UofA basketball team was an extension of his family.

George was modest about his philanthropic giving, but not his love and enthusiasm for men's basketball.  In recent years, George donated $1M to Salpointe Catholic High School for the renovation of their gym and athletic facilities, and $1M to University of Arizona to assist in the renovation of their basketball arena, McKale Memorial Center.  George also consistently donated UofA home game basketball tickets to Salpointe's foundation, generating over $420,000 for the school since 1970.

George is survived by his six siblings and three generations of dozens of nieces and nephews.  George's brother and Kalil Bottling Co.'s Vice President and General Manager of Phoenix, John Kalil, will now run the 71-year-old company.

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