A double stabbing that Medford police theorize could be a murder and attempted suicide has left the retired owner of a regional grocery chain hospitalized and his wife dead.

By Anita Burke

For the Tidings

A double stabbing that Medford police theorize could be a murder and attempted suicide has left the retired owner of a regional grocery chain hospitalized and his wife dead.

Raymond Nidiffer, a 79-year-old whose namesake Ray's Food Place stores dot Southern Oregon and Northern California, was listed in fair condition Monday afternoon as he recovered at an undisclosed local hospital from an apparently self-inflicted stab wound, Medford police said.

His wife, Mary June Nidiffer, 80, was found dead inside the couple's apartment in the original Rogue Valley Manor building at 1200 Mira Mar Ave., Medford, Sunday night.

Rogue Valley Manor employees on nightly rounds checking residents found the Nidiffers inside their locked apartment at about 11:15 p.m. Sunday, Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said. Workers called police and an ambulance to report two people had been stabbed.

Emergency crews determined that June Nidiffer had multiple stab wounds and was dead. Ray Nidiffer was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, where he was initially listed in critical condition, police said.

Investigators spent the day Monday interviewing people at the retirement center and serving a search warrant at the Nidiffers' apartment.

"Detectives are working to flesh out what happened," Doney said.

Manor officials said they were working with police and the family while trying to keep other residents informed about the situation.

"It's just a horrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the family," said Sarah Prewitt, director of public relations at the Manor.

She said the retirement center is providing grievance counseling for residents and employees shaken by the news. Its director of pastoral services as well as a private counselor are available.

Manor resident Helen Russ said the Nidiffers had moved to the Manor about seven years ago, initially living in a cottage near hers, until worsening health prompted them to move into an apartment.

Prewitt said the couple had requested that staff check on them each evening, one of the services the retirement community offers to residents who live independently.

Russ said June Nidiffer had participated in a sewing club with her and also did other crafts, including making cards.

Ray Nidiffer bought an interest in a Brookings grocery store in 1956 and incorporated it in 1967 as C&K Market Inc. In 1969 he became the sole owner of the venture and steadily built the chain through a combination of buying independent stores and opening new shopping centers. The chain, which includes Ray's Food Place, Price Less Food, Shop Smart and Pharmacy Express stores, operates 59 stores in Oregon and California, its Web site said.

Ray Nidiffer retired in 1997 and his son Doug Nidiffer now heads the company while his grandson, Alan Nidiffer, also is an officer. He also founded Ray's Foundation, a nonprofit organization that annually awards more than $100,000 to groups that focus on improving the health, education and vitality of communities where C&K Market has stores.

A statement released Monday by the company said June Nidiffer would "be fondly remembered as a caring and important part of our company and community."

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.