Sidney Craig, 76, a Founder of Jenny Craig, Dies

July 25, 2008

By DENNIS HEVESI

Sidney Craig, who with his wife, Genevieve, founded Jenny Craig Inc., the chain of weight-loss centers, which would eventually open more than 600 centers in four countries, died Monday at his home in Del Mar, Calif. He was 76.

The death was confirmed by Patti Larchet, who is now chief executive of the company.

Mr. Craig was a partner in a small chain of women’s weight-loss salons called Body Contour in the 1970s when he met Genevieve Guidroz Bourcq, who was working at one of those salons, in New Orleans. Soon after, she became national director of operations for Body Contour, and in 1979, they married.

Three years later, the couple sold their interest in Body Contour and moved to Melbourne, Australia, where — using the diminutive of Ms. Craig’s given name — they opened the first Jenny Craig center.

Emphasizing long-term weight reduction through lifestyle changes, and offering counseling as well as prepared calorie-controlled meals, the company eventually opened centers in New Zealand, Canada and the United States. There were 655 Jenny Craig locations in 2006, when the company was bought by Nestlé for $600 million.

The Craigs were also owners of thoroughbred horses. In 1995, they bought a 237-acre breeding ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Five years ago, one of their horses, Candy Ride, won the $1 million purse at the Pacific Classic at the Del Mar racetrack.

A longtime goal of Mr. Craig’s was to win the Kentucky Derby. To that end, in 1992, Ms. Craig bought her husband a $2.5 million present for his 60th birthday: a horse named Dr Devious. The colt finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby but went on to win the Epsom Derby in England.

Sidney Harvey Craig was born in Vancouver, B.C., on March 22, 1932. His family later moved to California. For a time, Mr. Craig attended California State University, Fresno. Then, after serving in the Navy, he became an instructor for Arthur Murray Dance Studios. He eventually owned five Arthur Murray franchises.

His successful investments led to his stake in the Body Contour chain and the meeting with his future wife.

Besides his wife, Mr. Craig is survived by three daughters, Denise Merlone, Michelle Weinger and Susan McKenna; two sons, Steven and Jason; and 13 grandchildren.

New York

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