Famous Business Magnates Graves
Sam Walton. Businessman. After graduating from the University of Missouri, he began his career as a retail merchant when he opened the first of several franchises of the Ben Franklin five-and-dime franchises in Arkansas. He opened his first Wal-Mart store in 1962; specializing in name-brands at low prices, the chain of Wal-Mart stores sprang up across rural America. His management style was popular with employees and helped to spur growth, taking the company public in 1970. The decentralized distribution system created the edge needed to further spur growth in the 1980s amidst growing complaints that the “superstore” was squelching smaller, traditional Mom and Pop stores. By 1991, Wal-Mart was the largest U.S. retailer with 1,700 stores. He remained active in managing the company, as president and CEO until 1988 and chairman until his death. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom shortly before his death.
Walt Disney. Entertainment Magnate and Film Pioneer. Most remembered for creating Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and a host of other cartoon characters. He has won 32 Oscars, more than any other person, for his extraordinary achievements in films. Born Walter Elias Disney, the son of Elias and Flora Disney in Chicago, Illinois. His father’s ancestors had come to America from Kilkenny, Ireland, seeking to escape from religious persecution. His father was always seeking success in many occupations but always finding failure, and the Disney family was always poor. Walt found that he could escape his father’s harsh discipline by drawing, and in 1917, when he was 16 years old, he lied about his age to join the American Red Cross Ambulance Corps. When he was mustered out at the end of World War I, he set up shop as a commercial artist in Kansas City, Missouri. There he discovered the world of animation, and Walt took to it. Moving to Los Angeles in 1923 to be with his more successful brother, Roy, Walt began drawing commercially, making a modest living by drawing for the Alice series of cartoons, about a live action girl who travels to the world of animated cartoon animals. In 1927, his first really successful commercial cartoon, featuring Oswald the Rabbit, became a success, but Walt lost the rights to the character when sued by his distributor. From then on, Walt insisted on owning the distribution rights to his creations. In 1928, Walt created Mickey Mouse. His third Mickey Mouse film, “Steamboat Willie,” was the first cartoon to use synchronized sound and became an overnight success. Walt was the voice of Mickey for the first ten years of the cartoon. In 1934, Disney pioneered the first full length cartoon movie, “Snow White”, and again, critics were overcome by the sheer popular response of the public to the movie. In 1950, he produced his first live-action film, “Treasure Island,” and in 1955, he opened his first theme park, Disneyland. Prior to his death in 1966 in Los Angeles, California, of lung cancer, he began work on his latest theme park in Orlando, Florida: Walt Disney’s World. His brother, Roy, the business genius behind the scenes, continued to run the company, and decades after Walt’s death, the Disney empire is still financially strong and keeping to Walt’s legacy. Shortly after Walt’s death, the Disney Company executive board was shown a short film that Walt made just before his death, where he addressed each board member by name, telling him what he expected of him, and ending the film by saying “I’ll be seeing you.” Walt Disney was one of the few Americans to be honored with a US postage stamp issued less than two years after his death (the US Postal Service prefers to issue stamps at least ten years after a person has died; an exception is made for US presidents), when a 6 cent stamp was issued in September 1968 in his honor.
Famous Restaurant / Food Business Magnates Graves
COL Harland Sanders. Business Magnate, Folk Figure. Born in Indiana, over the course of his lifetime he came to exemplify to many the true American entrepreneurial spirit. Sanders’ father died when Harland was only 6 years old and he had to help his mother care for his younger brother and sister. This meant doing much of the family cooking. He got his first job when he was 10 and for the next 30 years, Sanders held a variety of jobs ranging from streetcar conductor, a railroad fireman, insurance salesman and service station operator. It was while operating a service station in Corbin, Kentucky in 1930 that Sanders began serving food to travelers that stopped at his service station. He served his customers on his own dining table in the living quarters of the service station. As more people started coming to the service station just for the food, Sanders moved across the street to a motel and restaurant where he could seat more people. Over the next 9 years, he perfected his famous, and very secret, fried chicken recipe that is still used today. As the popularity of his fried chicken grew, Sanders fame began to spread across the state of Kentucky. He was even made a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of the state in 1935. However, in the 1950’s a new interstate highway was planned that would bypass Corbin. Recognizing that his business was doomed, Sanders sold off his restaurant operations and after paying his bills, was reduced to living on his $105 a month Social Security checks. Confident in the quality of his fried chicken, at 62 years old, Sanders devoted himself to franchising his famous chicken. He drove all over the country, cooking batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees. If the reaction was favorable, he entered into a handshake agreement on a deal that stipulated a payment to him of a nickel for each chicken the restaurant sold. By 1964, Colonel Sanders had more than 600 franchised outlets for his chicken in the United States and Canada. That same year he sold his interest in the U.S. company for $2 million to a group of investors. However, he remained a public spokesman for the company and traveled all over the world on behalf of the chicken he had made famous. Until he died at the age of 90, Colonel Sanders had traveled over 250,000 miles a year promoting Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Milton Snavely Hershey. Businessman. He founded the Hershey Company confection manufacturer, and built it into the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America. Born in Derry Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, at age 13 he worked as an apprentice for a newspaper but was later fired. He traveled west to Denver, Colorado, where he worked for a caramel maker. When he returned to Lancaster, Pennsylvania he opened Lancaster Caramel Company, and became wealthy by 1894. At that time, chocolate had to be imported and was considered a delicacy and was only available for those who could afford it. At the 1893 World’s Colombian Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois, he was introduced to and later bought German chocolate machinery. By 1894 Milton Hershey was making 114 varieties of chocolate. After selling his caramel business for 1 million dollars in 1900, he had a new factory built in his hometown, Derry Township which was completed in 1905 and decided to build a town around his factory. By 1913 Hershey, Pennsylvania had been well established with schools, churches, banks, hotels and parks. During the Depression Era of the 1930s, Hershey’s factory expanded, and no one lost their job. He continued at the head of the company until his death in 1945. Today, Hersey’s chocolates, especially the Hershey bar, are one of the most recognizable confections in the world.
John Fremont “Grandpa” McCullough. Entrepreneur. After attending college in Oswego, New York, he moved to Davenport, Iowa in 1911, then went into the dairy business in nearby Green River, Illinois. In 1938, he and his son Bradley developed a formula for soft-serve ice cream. They tested their new product at the ice cream retail shop of one of their customers, Sheb Noble on August 4, 1938. They sold over 1,600 servings for ten cents each in just two hours. The McCulloughs spent the next two years modifying a soft serve freezer to work for their concept. In 1940, the McCulloughs and Mr. Noble opened their first soft serve ice cream stand in Joliet, Illinois. John “Grandpa” McCullough named the shop Dairy Queen, since he viewed the cow as the queen of the dairy industry, and his soft serve ice cream as the queen of dairy products. Dairy Queen was a pioneer of the franchising concept, growing from 100 stores in 1947 to 2,600 in 1955. Today, there are almost 6,000 Dairy Queen restaurants in the United States, Canada, and twenty foreign countries.
Forrest Edward Mars, Sr. Businessman. Inventor of M&M’s. The son of Mars candy company founder Franklin C. Mars, he left the family business after a dispute with his father and established his own company, Forrest Mars Food Manufacturers. He invented and patented a candy-coated chocolate in 1940 under a partnership with Bruce Murrie, son of a Hershey’s Chocolate executive, hence the name “M&M”, which stands for “Mars & Murrie”. After his father’s death he took over Mars, Inc. and merged it with his own company, successfully running it until he retired in 1973. At the time of his death he was one of the richest people in the United States. M&M/Mars is still privately owned by the Mars family and is the largest chocolate and candy company in the world.
Franklin Clarence Mars. Businessman. He founded the Mars Candy Factory in 1911, which exists in the present day as Mars, Incorporated. Among the candy products he created was the “Milky Way” candy bar, which is one of the best selling confections in history. His son, Forrest Mars created the “Mars Bar” in 1933 in England by adding a layer of caramel to the Milky Way bar.
Jay Catherwood Hormel. Business Magnate. “J.C.” Hormel, known as the “Spam Man” for his most popular product, pioneered the canned meat business. Hormel, son of the company’s founder, was determined to find cause for several thousand pounds of surplus pork shoulder. He developed a distinctive canned blend of chopped pork and ham known as Hormel spiced ham that didn’t require refrigeration. As a result of his successful marketing campaigns and promotions, 70% of urban Americans used canned meats in 1940, compared with only 18% in 1937. By 1946, Hormel Company was the largest independent meat processing establishment in the U.S.
Dave Thomas. American restaurateur and philanthropist, best known as founder of the hamburger chain, Wendy’s. Wearing a Wendy’s apron, Thomas was one of the nation’s most recognized television spokesmen. He has appeared in almost every TV advertisement for the No. 3 burger chain in the United States from 1989 until his death. Although Dave became widely popular, he was never very comfortable as a “celebrity.”
Troy N. Smith, Sr. Businessman, Entrepreneur. He was the founder of the Sonic Drive-In food chain, formerly known as Top Hat. Raised in east-central Oklahoma, he served in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War, before returning home to Oklahoma where he worked as a milk and bread delivery man. Between 1948 and 1953 he operated a handful of restaurants in the rural Oklahoma area. In 1953 he purchased the Top Hat root beer stand in the town of Shawnee, operating it in partnership with co-founder Charlie Pappe. The business soon expanded into the neighboring communities of Woodward, Enid and Stillwater, before becoming a national food chain. He became one of the first fast food services to offer covered angled parking for customer privacy, and an intercom system allowing diners to order food from the comfort of their cars. In 1960 he changed the name of the company from Top Hat to Sonic, to reflect the motto “Service with the Speed of Sound.” He was a major philanthropist and benefactor, providing millions of dollars in financial assistance to the University of Central Oklahoma, and the communities of Shawnee and Edmond, Oklahoma. At the time of his death, nearly 3,600 Sonic franchises were in operation across the United States, providing food services in 42 states.
Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese, Sr. Businessman. He was the founder of the “H.B. Reese Candy Company”, whose most famous product eventually became the “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup”. Entering candy manufacturing business in Hershey, Pennsylvania around 1917, by the mid-1920s he started to make an item called “peanut butter cups”. Due to sugar shortages during World War II he dropped other items the company had produced and concentrate on the peanut butter cup item. Six years after his death in 1962 the company was sold to Hershey Chocolate Company for 23.5 million dollars. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is Hershey’s most popular candy bar and is the second biggest such seller in the United States.
Charles Alfred Pillsbury. Businessman. He was the founder and namesake of the Pillsbury Company. A New Hampshire native, he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1863. In 1869 he moved to Minneapolis and established the C. A. Pillsbury Flour Company with the assistance of his uncle, future Minnesota Governor John S. Pillsbury; it eventually became one of the largest flour-milling enterprises in the world. He sold controlling interest in the business in 1889 but remained on its Board of Directors until his death. The Pillsbury family re-acquired the company in 1923 and ran it until it was sold in 1989. The Pillsbury product name is now owned by General Mills and lives on in such well-known items as Pillsbury’s Best Flour and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
George Albert Hormel. Businessman. He was the founder of Hormel Foods Corporation, which became famous for the introduction of canned hams. His father was a leather tanner and his mother came from a family that had worked in the slaughterhouses. At the age of 15 he worked in his uncle’s butcher shop. He later worked as a wool merchant and eventually moved to Austin, Minnesota, where he and a business partner opened a butcher shop in 1887. He wanted to expand the business but his partner objected, and he sold his half and started his own Hormel Provision Market meatpacking business in 1891. He soon expanded the business and in 1895, he introduced the Hormel sugar-cured pig back bacon (now commonly referred to as “Canadian bacon”). In 1901, he incorporated his business as George A. Hormel and Company with distribution centers in Minnesota (Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth, Texas (Dallas and San Antonio), Illinois (Chicago), Georgia (Atlanta), and Birmingham, Alabama. In 1926, Hormel introduced canned hams (Hormel Flavor-Sealed Ham) and added chicken to its line in 1928. His company set high working conditions for its employees by offering shorter hours and higher wages than any of its competitors, and was also the first to install gas chambers for humane animal slaughters that used carbon dioxide clouds in lieu of the more traditional slaughter methods. His son, Jay Hormel, became the company president in 1929 and he retired and moved to California, but stayed active in the business. He died of heart failure.
Cornelius Vanderbilt. 19th Century American shipping and railroad tycoon. Best known as the patriarch of the socially prominent Vanderbilt family of New York, and as the founder of the New York Central Railroad. Young Vanderbilt quit school at age 11 and started working as a deck hand on the ferries of New York City. By age 16, he was operating his own ferry line, carrying freight and passengers. By 1830, his business had expanded to encompass the entire Hudson River valley. Soon he controlled coastal trade along the entire coast of New England. During the California Gold Rush, he ran a steamship line from New York to California via Nicaragua. It was during this period that he acquired the moniker “The Commodore” because of his extensive interests in the shipping business. In the early 1860’s, Vanderbilt sold all his steamships to the Union navy and began investing in railroads. By 1869, he had merged 17 local railroads to create the New York Central system. By 1873 he had added the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern system to extend his rail empire to Chicago and challenge the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad for New York to Chicago business. He founded Vanderbilt University with a grant of $1 million. At the time of his death, Vanderbilt, at a net worth of over $100 million (equivalent to $8 billion in today’s money), was the richest man in the world.
Bernard Henry “Barney” Kroger, Sr Grocery Store Magnate. Kroger began working as a door to door salesman for the Great Northern and Pacific Tea Co., eventually ending up at the Imperial Tea Co. The grocery was not doing well, and the two owners made Kroger a manager. When the owners later refused to make Kroger a partner, he used his own money to open his own grocery. Kroger’s store, The Great Western Tea Co., succeeded despite numerous growing pains and catastrophes. Kroger opened four separate locations within two years. He renamed the company Kroger Grocery and Baking Co. in 1902, later shortened to Kroger, and opened over 5500 stores by the end of the 1920s. He is credited with introducing the low-cost grocery chain models that persist today.
Thomas Watson. Chairman of IBM. became General Manager in 1914 and President in 1915 of the CTR Company, which later changed its name to IBM, and rescued it from near extinction. He was famous for making his salespeople at IBM attend sing-a-longs. In 1937, Watson received the Eagle with Star medal from the German Nazi regime for helping with tabulating census data. After the outbreak of World War II, Watson returned the medal. He is known for his 1943 statement: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
William Procter. Manufacturer. Co-Founder of the Procter and Gamble Company.
James Gamble. Manufacturer. Co-Founder of the Procter and Gamble Company. He married Elizabeth Norris and was convinced by his father-in-law, Alexander Norris, to enter into a business partnership with his brother-in-law, William Procter. They established the Procter and Gamble Company in Cincinnati in 1837. By 1859, sales had reached $1 million.
Jeptha Homer Wade, Sr. Western Industrialist. Born in Romulus, New York, he was best known for being a founding member of Western Union Telegraph service. In 1861, he joined forces with Benjamin Ficklin and Hiram Sibley to form the Pacific Telegraph Company. The company’s formation completed the linkage between the east and west coast of the United States as the Western Union Telegraph service. Wade became the first president of Western Union in 1866 and a year later he resigned because of ill-health.
Vincent Astor. Financier, Businessman, Philanthropist. The son of Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, he entered Harvard University only to leave after the death of his father in the sinking of the “RMS Titanic”‘. He was the first Astor, in several generations, to take active control of the family investments, with interests in automobiles, shipping and air transportation, as well as the ancestral involvement in Manhattan, New York City, New York real estate. A Commodore of The New York Yacht Club, his yacht, “Nourmahal”, was utilized for geographical and zoological research and exploration, donating the vessel to the government at the outset of the Second World War. He was the owner of “Newsweek Magazine,” director of Western Union, the Chase Manhattan Bank, and The United States Lines, and was a trustee of the New York Public Library and the New York Zoological Society. During both World Wars he served as a staff officer in the United States Navy; he was a retired Captain in the Naval Reserve. He married in 1914 Helen Dinsmore Huntington, patroness of The Metropolitan Opera. Without issue, he founded ‘The Vincent Astor Foundation’, which has distributed over one hundred million dollars for the benefit of the citizens of New York.
Brooke Astor. Philanthropist. Born Roberta Brooke Russell in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her father was Major General John Henry Russell Jr., a military officer who eventually became Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. She dropped out of high school in 1919 to marry John Dryden Kuser, (her first serious relationship), when she was 17. The son of the founder of South Jersey Gas and Electric and the grandson of the founder of Prudential Life Insurance Company, he drank heavily, was abusive and adulterous, and announced after a year of marriage that he no longer loved her. A dutiful wife, she did not file for divorce until after he won election to the New Jersey State Senate in 1930. Her second marriage was to stockbroker Charles Marshall, a man of more modest means and kinder temperament. During World War II she worked as a nurse tending to veterans, and when the war ended, unlike most married women of her time, she decided to continue to work rather than give up her job to returning soldiers. She wrote for “House And Garden” magazine, and eventually became an editor there. She was married to Marshall for two decades, until his death. Her third husband was Vincent Astor, who inherited great wealth when his father died aboard the “RMS Titanic” in 1912. A member of the Astor family whose wealth started with John Jacob Astor in the early 19th century, he owned “Newsweek” magazine, the Hotel St. Regis in New York City, New York, and had many millions in real estate, as well as vast holdings in the automobile, shipping, and air transportation industries. Reportedly once told his wife that when he died, she would have “a hell of a good time” giving away his fortune once he died. He died of a heart attack in 1959, and over the next four decades she devoted her time to donating the vast fortune to philanthropic endeavors, such as the Bronx Zoo, the International Rescue Committee, the Fresh Air Fund, Lighthouse for the Blind, the Maternity Center Association, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New York Public Library. In total, she donated in her time an estimated $195 million. Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, in 2006 she became the subject of a lawsuit alleging elder abuse by her son, Anthony Dryden Marshall (her child with John Dryden Kuser – he had adopted the surname of his step father, Charles Marshall). Family members claimed that late in her life, Anthony Dryden Marshall forced Brooke Astor to sleep on a urine-drenched couch, kept her beloved dogs locked in a separate room, replaced her name-brand face cream with petroleum jelly, and switched her prescriptions to lower-cost generic drugs. A court appointed fashion designers Oscar de la Renta’s wife Annette, a close friend of Brooke Astor, to act as her temporary guardian, and assigned financial giant J P Morgan Chase to oversee her assets. A Morgan Chase audit raised questions about $14 million in cash, property and stocks that Anthony Dryden Marshall received from his mother, who may not have realized what she was signing. Brooke Astor died at the age of 105 in August 2007, and in October 2009 her son was convicted of grand larceny stemming from his abuse of her.
John Davison Rockefeller. Business Magnate. Best known as the patriarch of the socially prominent Rockefeller family of New York, the founder of the Standard Oil Company and founder of the Rockefeller Foundation.
William Rockefeller. Industrialist. The younger brother of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, he served as President of Standard Oil until its antitrust dissolution in 1911.
Andrew Carnegie. Businessman, Industrialist, Philanthropist. He is best known as the founder of the United States Steel Corporation (known today as the USX Corporation).
Automotive Pioneer Graves
Henry Ford. Pioneer Industrialist. Founder of the Ford Motor Company. He was a Midwestern farm boy with a grammar school education who rose to become the world’s largest auto manufacturer. In an era when automobiles were hand-crafted luxury items, he developed the mass-produced Model T, the first car the average person could afford. In the process he revolutionized industry and greatly changed the way of life in the United States. Ford was born in a rural area that is now part of Dearborn, Michigan. Mechanically inclined from boyhood, he left his father’s farm at 16 to become an apprentice machinist in Detroit, and worked his way up to chief engineer at the city’s Edison power plant. In his spare time he experimented with gasoline engines and completed his first automobile, the “Quadricycle”, in 1896. His initial pioneering efforts were in auto racing. He set several land speed records and sponsored the career of legendary racer Barney Oldfield, who drove the Ford-built “999” in his early victories. In 1899 he left Edison to launch the Detroit Automobile Company (later reorganized as Cadillac), but was forced out by investors who felt he was more interested in developing cars than selling them. He then founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 with a mere $28,000 in capital. At first, like his competitors, he made cars for the well-to-do, but later he came to believe that everyone, regardless of income, should be able to own one. Having enjoyed a healthy success with his paired-down 1906 Model N, Ford unveiled his “car for the great multitude”, the Model T, in 1908. Nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie”, this simple, inexpensive vehicle created a new broad-based market for the automobile. To meet (and initiate) growing demand, Ford created the franchise-dealership system and opened a state-of-the-art factory in Highland Park, Michigan, where from 1910 to 1914 he oversaw radical changes in mass manufacturing. He introduced subdivision of labor along constantly moving assembly lines so that a car could be built from start to finish in 93 minutes. Production gains were enormous and as the price of a Model T dropped from $850 to $280, sales skyrocketed. During its 19 years of existence over 15 million Model Ts were sold, more than half the cars in the United States at that time. In 1914 Ford caused another sensation when he announced he would cut his employees’ workday from 9 to 8 hours, establish a profit-sharing plan, and set a minimum wage of $5 a day, twice the national average. This ran counter to standard business philosophy with its emphasis on maximizing profits by minimizing costs, but Ford argued that worker satisfaction translated to higher efficiency and ultimately saved money. He proved his point by guiding his enterprise through a period of unprecedented (and completely self-financed) growth. At his 1920s peak he had over 100,000 employees and business interests in 33 countries. In 1927 he replaced the aging Model T with the Model A, 4 million of which were sold through 1931. His last innovation was the V8 engine (1932), later adapted by other automakers. Ford was able to push through his technological and economic advances because of the monomaniacal power he wielded over his organization. Resentful of investor influence, he bought out all his shareholders in 1919 and for the next 36 years the Ford Motor Company was solely family-owned. Also in 1919 he appointed his only son, Edsel Ford, as company president, but he continued to dictate all corporate policy. This ranged from producing the raw materials that went into his cars to attempts at controlling the personal lives of the men who built them. He employed an army of investigators, which he called his “Sociology Department”, to make sure that his employees’ conduct outside the workplace met his Puritanical standards (drinking, smoking, health or financial problems, or owning a car by a rival company were all grounds for termination). He was fiercely opposed to trade unions and the late 1930s saw bloody clashes between his security forces and organizers from the United Auto Workers. Only when faced with a general strike did he finally sign a contract with the UAW in 1941, the last major automaker to do so. Ford was a visionary, and a genius, but he was also a poor manager who failed to make the most of his early success. After World War I he stubbornly refused to diversify his product or even update the Model T (he famously declared that customers could have his cars in any color they wanted, as long as it was black); this allowed General Motors and Chrysler to overtake him in the marketplace. When Edsel Ford died in 1943 and his father, at 79, resumed the presidency, Ford Motors was losing $10 million a month. He finally retired in 1945 and handed the reins over to his grandson, Henry Ford II, who reorganized the company and restored it to profitability. As a public figure Ford was always outspoken and controversial. He was against America’s involvement in World Wars I and II, though once the country was at war he used his factories to manufacture war materials. In 1918 President Woodrow Wilson asked him to run for the US Senate on the Democratic ticket because he favored the League of Nations, but he was defeated after a smear campaign by his opponent, which played up his lack of education. (Ford himself provided ammunition with such statements as “History is more or less bunk”). The following year he purchased a local newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, as a mouthpiece for his increasingly bizarre political and social views, including his virulent anti-Semitism; the publication seriously damaged his reputation and he sold it in 1927. His last years were devoted to more benign pursuits. He established Greenfield Village, a group of historical buildings and landmarks, in Dearborn, as well as the Henry Ford Museum. In 1936 he and Edsel Ford created the Ford Foundation, today one of the wealthiest of philanthropic organizations. With author Samuel Crowther he wrote three volumes of autobiography, “My Life and Work”, “Today and Tomorrow”, and “Moving Forward”. More than any single person, Henry Ford prompted the shift in the United States from a largely agrarian society to an urbanized one. Other industries made use of his manufacturing methods; agriculture was affected as farmers growing hay for horses had to switch to other crops. His vigorous lobbying for more and better roads, and the sheer influx of Ford cars, helped lead to the building of the largest interstate-highway system in the world. And by making the automobile a basic neccessity available to the general public – and the empowerment and mobility this offered – he paved the way for a new American middle class. In 1999 a Time magazine poll rated Ford among the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century, and historians are still weighing his impact. Will Rogers, writing in the 1920s, probably summed up Ford’s legacy best: “It will take a hundred years to tell whether he helped us or hurt us, but he certainly didn’t leave us where he found us”.
Walter Percy Chrysler. Industrialist. He was the first President and Founder of the Chrysler Corporation. Walter Chrysler was born in Wamego, Kansas, and shortly afterwards, his family moved to Oelwein, Iowa. His automotive career began when the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) decided to expand into making automobiles. Chrysler’s interest in automobiles had begun in 1908, when he bought his first car. When ALCO’s sales began to slide after just two years in the car-making business, Chrysler saw the handwriting on the wall, and in 1911, he quit ALCO to become the factory manager of the Buick Motor Company; just two years later, ALCO quit the automobile business altogether. In 1916, he became President of the Buick Motor Company, but resigned in 1919, to take over as Vice-President of the Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio. At that time, his salary was $1 million a year, a record salary for that time. Shortly afterwards, Chrysler attempted to oust President John Willys in a takeover bid that backfired when the shareholders refused to support him. Chrysler left the company in 1921 after taking controlling interest in the Maxwell Motor Company. Four years later, he absorbed Maxwell into his fledging Chrysler Corporation, never looking back. In addition to Chrysler automobiles, the company also created the Plymouth and DeSoto automobiles, and in 1928, purchased the Dodge Corporation. He financed the construction of what was then the tallest building in the world, the Chrysler Building, in New York City, soon to be bested by the Empire State Building, and earning the 1928 title of Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. Chrysler’s autobiography was titled “The Life of an American Workman.” Chrysler was President of the company from 1925 to 1935, and continued to serve as Chairman of the Board from 1935 until his death in 1940.
John Francis Dodge. Automobile Pioneer and Manufacturer. He, along with his younger brother Horace Elgin Dodge, founded the successful automobile firm Dodge Brothers Company. Born the third of four children in Niles, Michigan his father owned a foundry and machine shop. In 1886 he and his brother moved to Detroit, Michigan where they took jobs at a boilermaker plant. In 1894 they went to work as machinists at the Canadian Typograph Company across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. He was the sales oriented managerial type while his brother was a gifted mechanic and inveterate tinkerer. In 1897, using a dirt-proof ball bearing that his brother had invented, he arranged a deal for them to join with a third party investor to manufacture bicycles. Within a few years they sold the business and in 1901 used the proceeds of the sale to set up their own machine shop in Detroit. During their first year in business they began making parts for the automobile industry. In 1902 they won a contract to build transmissions for the Olds (Oldsmobile) Motor Vehicle Company upon which they built a solid reputation for quality and service. However, the following year they turned down a second contract from Olds in order to retool their plant to build engines for Henry Ford in a deal that included a share position in the new Ford Motor Company. From 1903 until 1913 their business was a Ford Motor Company supplier, and he worked as vice president of the Ford company. By 1910 he and his brother were so successful they built a new plant in Hamtramck, Michigan. In 1913 Dodge Brothers Company terminated their Ford contract and he left Ford and they devoted their energies toward producing a Dodge automobile. They began building motor trucks, ambulances and other vehicles for the US military during the arms buildup for World War I and in October 1917 they produced their first commercial car. At the end of World War I, their company manufactured and marketed both cars and trucks. A speedboat and yachting enthusiast, his keen interest in the vessel’s engines led him to establish a marine division as part of their automotive business. In 1919 Henry Ford bought out the Dodge brothers’ shareholdings in Ford Motor Company for $25 million. The following year he died of complications from the Spanish flu at the age of 55. In 1928 Dodge Brothers was purchased by the fledgling Chrysler Corporation for $170 million.
Carl Graham Fisher. Auto Race Car Executive. Indianapolis Speedway co-founder. Developer of automobile headlights.
Alexander Winton. Automotive Pioneer. He immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1878, settled in Cleveland, Ohio and began to manufacturer bicycles at the Winton Bicycle Company. He built his first motorized vehicle in 1896, organized the Winton Motor Carriage Company in March 15, 1897 and on March 24, 1898, he became known for the first commercial sale of an automobile in the United States. He later became known as the Winton Engine Corporation and the corporation became a subsidiary of General Motors Corporation in 1930.
Alcohol Pioneer Graves
Eberhard Anheuser. Businessman. Born in Kreuznach, Germany in 1843, he settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was joined shortly thereafter by his family. For the early part of his entrepreneurial career, people associated him with a completely different product, that product was soap. It is unknown whether he trained as a soap manufacturer in Cincinnati, if this training was part of his education as a chemist in Germany. In 1845 Eberhard and his family moved to St. Louis. Eberhard became a brewer just as changes in American consumer behavior sparked massive growth in beer consumption. Over the course of his career, the American brewing industry began a transition from being mostly small-scale in production, locally based in market, and limited in its competitive nature into an industry known for its acute competitiveness, rapidly expanding production capacity, and internationally expanding market. Although these new trends came to full fruition during the twenty years after Eberhard’s death, he witnessed their birth during his twenty-year career as a brewer. Eberhard made several contacts within the German brewing community. Some became lifelong friends, such as William J. Lemp, the largest brewer in St. Louis at the time. Others became relatives. Eberhard met a young brewery supplier named Adolphus Busch, and his older brother Ulrich, who ended up marrying Eberhard’s daughters Lilly and Anna in a double ceremony in 1861. The company became Anheuser-Busch in 1879. The partners agreed to expand the brewery continually with reinvested money from increased sales, so that the 8,000 barrels produced in 1865 shot to 141,163 by the time of Anheuser’s death in 1880. Using this strategy, the brewery grew so much that it received notice as a local landmark during Eberhard’s lifetime. Eberhard died in 1880, after a long struggle with throat cancer. He was 73 years old.
William Jacob Lemp, Sr. Son of Lemp Brewery founder Johann Adam Lemp, William built the brewery into an industrual giant. In 1870 it was the largest brewery in St. Louis and remained so until the start of Prohibition in 1919. At the time of William’s death, the Lemp brewery was the third largest in the United States. William shot himself through the right temple in his bedroom at the family mansion, apparently still grieving over the loss of his beloved son Frederick, the heir apparent to the family brewery, who died at the age of 28.
Adolphus Busch. Businessman, Co-founder of Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company. Adolphus Busch was the second of 22 children born to Barbara (Pfeifer) and Ulrich Busch in Kastel, Mainz, Grand Duchy of Hesse (now Germany). His father was a wealthy landowner and had business interests in the lumber, winery and brewing businesses. His father’s position and wealth assured that Adolphus had access to the best education. He attended the Academy of Darmstadt and the Collegiate Institute of Belgium in Brussels. After working in the lumber business for a year, he secured a position in a mercantile business in Cologne where he quickly rose to a leadership position. Adolphus, along with three of his brothers; Johann, Ulrich, Jr and Anton immigrated to the United States in 1857. He became acquainted with Eberhard Anheuser, the owner of a small brewery, and married his daughter, Lilly Eberhard Anheuser, on March 7, 1861 in St Louis, Missouri. Lilly and Adolphus had 8 children: Augusta, August Anheuser, Adolphus II, Eddie, Anna, Clara, Wilhelmina and Carl. In June 1861, Adolphus joined the Union Army and served for 14 months, eventually attaining the rank of Colonel. During his service in the Union Army, he was notified of his father’s death and that he had inherited a portion of the estate. With the proceeds from the estate, he was able to establish a wholesale brewers supply business in St Louis. Four years later, he purchased an equal share of his father-in-law’s Bavarian brewery, Anheuser and Company. After Eberhard Anheuser died in 1880, the business name was changed to Anheuser Busch Company. Adolphus pioneered the pasteurization of beer so that it could be kept in rail-side icehouses and shipped in refrigerated rail cars throughout the country without a loss of quality. He also pioneered bottling beer in glass bottles and founded the Busch Glass Company to assure a steady supply of bottles to his brewery business. He purchased the trademarked name “Budweiser” from Carl Conrad in 1891 for his product. The success of his brewing business allowed Adolphus and his family to contribute to many philanthropic activities. He made several contributions to Harvard University toward erection of a Germanic Museum, named Adolphus Busch Hall and assisted in the rebuilding of Kastel, Mainz, Germany from a devastating flood of the Rhine River in 1882. The family also traveled extensively and had a vacation home in Langenschwalbach, Germany (now Bad Schwalbach, Germany). While on vacation at his home in Germany, Adolphus died on Oct 10, 1913 from the effects of dropsy. The stewartship of the company he co-founded was passed to his son, August Anheuser Busch Sr. His body was shipped back to the United States in 1915 to be buried in the family mausoleum.
Jack Daniel. Businessman. He is was the founder of the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey distillery. Born into Welsh, Scottish and Irish ancestry, he was the youngest of his mother’s ten children. The exact date of his birth is in dispute. His mother died when he was a young boy and his father was killed during the American Civil War. When he was a teenager, he ran away from home and was taken in by a local preacher and moonshine distiller named Dan Call and began to learn the distilling trade. In 1875 he received an inheritance from his father’s estate and founded a legal distilling business with Call who soon quit for religious reasons. He then purchased the land where the distillery is now located and his business soon expanded to include 15 distilleries. His brand of whiskey soon became very popular and it won the gold medal at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. He died as a result of blood poisoning.
Lemuel Oscar Motlow. Businessman. He was the owner and operator of the famous Jack Daniel Distillery. Jasper “Jack” Daniel took over the distillery just after the Civil War. It’s ownership eventually passed to Daniel’s nephew Lemuel Motlow. Prohibition had begun in the 1920s and he moved his distillery to St. Louis, Missouri and in 1923 he made a deal to sell the distillery and all of its stored whiskey to a St. Louis businessman named Don Robinson. Motlow and Robinson, were accused of bootlegging.On the way back from St. Louis to Tennessee, Motlow shot and killed a train conductor named C.T. Pullis. Motlow survived his bootlegging charge and his murder charge; in the end, the jury was persuaded that he had been double-crossed by the people to whom he was trying to sell his business. He was able to retain ownership in his Tennessee distillery. In 1931 he was elected to the State Legislature, where he served six years. Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and by the end of the decade he had rebuilt and reopened his family business in Lynchburg.
Jacob Best. Business Magnate. Jacob Best learned the brewer’s trade in his hometown of Hesse Darnstadt, Germany, and then moved on to operate a small brewery in Mattenheim. In 1840, two of Best’s four sons immigrated to America, settling in the Kilbourntown section of Milwaukee. They were joined by Jacob Best, his two younger sons and other family members in 1844. With his sons, Jacob Best opened the Emipre Brewery producing lager beer, wiskey and vinegar. As demand increased of light lager beer, the firm changed its name to Best & Company. Retiring in 1853, Jacob Best tranferred ownership to Lorenz and Phillip. After 1860, Phillip assumed sole control of the brewery which became the Pabst Brewing Company.
Jim Beam. Business Magnate. He turned the family bourbon business into an american industry. Under him, the business thrived despite prohibition. He left the distilling business to grow citrus in Florida, among other things. When prohibition ended in 1934 he was ready to fire up the still. He built and moved to a new distillery near his home which is the current location. From this point forward, the bourbon was called “Jim Beam.”
Adolph Coors. Businessman. Beer Magnate who started the Coors Brewing Company. He was born to Joseph and Helena Kuhrs in Barmen in the Rheinland area of Prussia. As was normal for the times, he began an apprenticeship as a teenager in nearby Ruhrort until his family moved to Dortmund, Westphalia, in 1862 and then began a new apprenticeship with a Dortmund brewery. That same year both of his parents died. He completed the apprenticeship then worked as an employee at the Wenker Brewery until 1867. Then began his “wander year,” typical of German journeymen in those times to broaden their experience, and worked at breweries in Kassel, Berlin, and Uelzen. In early 1868, he left Germany and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, reportedly as a stow-away, and by mid-year had reached the Chicago, Illinois, area where, after Americanizing his name to Coors, worked at several odd jobs. By summer of 1869 he had become foreman of the Stenger Brewery in Naperville, Illinois where he remained for almost three years. Then continued west to Denver, Colorado, arriving in spring of 1872. Shortly thereafter he purchased a partnership in a bottling company and by year’s end was able to buy out the founder, John Staderman. In autumn of 1873, he and a Denver confectioner and fellow German immigrant, Jacob Schueler, purchased an abandoned Tannery in Golden, Colorado, and converted it into a brewery. Schueler provided $18,000 for the venture and Coors, just 26 years old, contributed his $2,000 savings, his expertise and enthusiasm. By spring of the following year their Golden Brewery was producing beer. In 1880 he purchased Schueler’s interest and became sole owner with annual beer production of 3,500 barrels annually. Ten years later production reached 17,600 barrels. With prohibition in Colorado in 1916, he and his sons began making malted milk and other products for 18 years to keep the company operating and profitable until prohibition’s repeal in 1933.
George A. Dickel. George A. Dickel was a successful merchant living in Nashville when he visited Tullahoma with his wife Augusta in 1867. It was in Cascade Hollow that George Dickel dreamed of creating the finest, smoothest sippin’ whisky in the United States. In 1870, Dickel’s dream came true, and a company which bore his name was opened at Cascade Hollow, Tennessee on the Cascade Creek (located between Chattanooga and Nashville, six miles northeast of Tullahoma). It was also at this time that George declared that because his whisky was as smooth as the finest scotch, he would always spell the “whiskey” in George Dickel Tennessee Whisky without an “e”, keeping with the Scotch whisky tradition.
Howard Johnson. Ice Cream and Hotel Magnate. Howard Johnson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1897. He quit school in the eighth grade to work in his father’s cigar store. Johnson served in World War I as a part of the American Expeditionary Force. Soon after Johnson’s return, his father died, leaving him the business and its heavy debt. He sold the business to pay off the debts in 1924. Johnson then borrowed $2,000 to buy a small corner drugstore and soda fountain in Wollaston, Massachusetts. He sold candy, newspapers, cigars, and medicine˜and he was very successful. The popularity of the soda fountain convinced him that having better-tasting ice cream would boost his business. At first, he used his mother’s recipe. Not satisfied with this, he invested $300 in an ice cream recipe from an elderly German immigrant who was retiring. This premium ice cream recipe utilized natural flavors and twice the normal level of butterfat. Johnson began with three flavors, eventually increasing this to twenty-eight flavors. He also sold his ice cream at local beaches to boost business. A local restaurant owner who purchased ice cream from the drug store asked to use the Howard Johnson name on his restaurant. Johnson agreed, which made him the exclusive source of supplies. The restaurant combined a lunch counter, fast food takeout, an ice cream stand, and a sit-down restaurant˜all in one location. Johnson soon began selling franchises of his restaurants. The white buildings trimmed with orange and sea blue became the Howard Johnson trademark. By 1940, Johnson had about 135 restaurants. During World War II, 90 percent of the restaurants closed due to gas rationing. The industrious Johnson contracted to manufacture candy and other goods for the armed forces. After the war, he began expanding his chains nationwide. More Americans were beginning to travel, and Johnson saw a need for better quality motels and hotels to meet the needs of these travelers and their families. Johnson created motor hotels, offering good services and cleanliness. Howard Johnson retired in 1959, leaving the company to his son. However, he continued to monitor his restaurants for cleanliness and proper food preparation, often performing unannounced inspections. By 1965, the Howard Johnson name was to be found on 770 restaurants and 265 motor hotels.
In 1965, sales exceeded those of McDonald’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken COMBINED! HoJo’s was the second largest food feeder in the U.S., second only to the U.S. Army. Then American‚s eating habits changed, the landmark Times Square’s HoJo was shuttered at the close of business on July 8, 2005. As of 2006, only five Howard Johnson restaurants and none of the ice cream shops remain in the United States mainly due to increased competition from fast-food restaurants and their low prices. Nevertheless, Howard Johnson made it possible for travelers and families on the go to eat nutritiously and enjoy a higher standard in all aspects of hospitality than was previously available.
Walter Davidson, Sr. Businessman. President and one of the four original founders of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
James Cash Penney, Jr. Businessman. He was the founder of the JC Penney Company
Horace Smith. Industrialist, Inventor, Philanthropist. He co-founded the Smith and Wesson firearms manufacturing company with his partner Daniel Baird Wesson, in Springfield, Massachusetts. In the 1850s they invented the repeating action, self-contained cartridge revolver. Today, the Smith and Wesson name and logo are one of the most widely recognized brands of firearms in the world.
Milton Bradley. Business Magnate. He is credited with launching the game industry in North America. Born in Vienna, Maine in 1836, he decided to become a printer in his early teens, and set about learning the trade. In 1860, he set up a print shop in Springfield, Massachusetts, and that year, printed a beardless likeness (lithograph) of presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, which sold in the thousands until Lincoln grew a beard two years later. About the time his lithography business was starting to decline, a friend invited him to play a board game that he had purchased in Europe. Inspired by the idea, Bradley designed his own board game, called “The Checkered Game of Life” (it is still being sold today, but is now updated and just called “The Game of Life”). By 1861, he had sold more than 45,000 copies of the game. In 1869, Bradley published America’s first book for kindergarteners, “Paradise of Childhood” by Friedrich Froebel. Bradley then decided to devote his entire business to children’s needs, including writing four children’s books himself. His book, “Colour in the Kindergarten” (1893), quickly became a best seller. In 1880, he expanded his business to include jigsaw puzzles, and today, the MB Company is one of the world’s largest makers of games and puzzles. He died in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1911, but his company continued on, making educational materials and new games for children. In 1984, the company was acquired by Hasbro, Incorperated, of Rhode Island, but Hasbro kept the name active since many people liked its products.
Henry Alden Sherwin. Business Magnate. He was the founder of the Sherwin-Williams paint company.
Simon Lazarus. He founded the Lazarus department store chain.
Alfred Wright. Businessman. He was a successful perfume manufacturer and a deeply religious man, who found that many of his employees were not attending church on Sunday mornings because they were too tired after long hours working the other six days a week. As a result, he ordered all his factories to be closed at noon on Saturdays to give his employees a chance to rest and recuperate before attending their weekly church. This was developed into Malcolm Gray’s revolutionary five-day work-week, which was picked up by Henry Ford and set industry labor standards for the future. He was also a member of the first Rochester Board of Park Commissioners, established in 1888, which began with just over 500 acres of land and now accounts for over 11,000 acres of the Monroe County park system.
Russell Stover. Businessman. It was in Omaha that a fellow approached Stover with a chocolate-covered ice cream bar idea. Stover produced and sold it for a year. After the first mad surge for the novelty, sales dropped off and the Stovers bailed out with $25,000. This novelty was the Eskimo Pie. The Stover’s moved to Denver where they began “Mrs. Stover’s Bungalow Candies.” In 1931 they moved their business to Kansas City. Many Kansas Citizens will remember the company headquarters at 1206 Main street in downtown Kansas City Missouri. Russell Stover candies became a multi-million dollar a year business with world wide sales. Russell Stover died in 1954, but his wife Clara carried on the candy business until selling it in 1960.
Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Goodrich. Businessman. He was an Army surgeon and manufacturer who began the manufacture of rubber products in New York in 1869, and moved the company to Akron, Ohio in 1870. The company became the “B.F. Goodrich Company” in 1880.
Loren Murphy Berry. Business Inovator. Born in Wabash, Indiana, he became known as “Mr. Yellow Pages” and was the foremost telephone directory publishers in the United States, handling one out of every four telephone directories in the United States. In 1910, he began The Ohio Guide Printing Company which soon concentrated his efforts on a telephone directory operation. By the 1970s, his company was asked by the manager of a telephone company to sell advertising space in the company’s directory as well as listing. In 1982, he was inducted into the Telephone Hall of Fame honor roll of the Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association. He expanded his operations to Europe, where the product is called the Golden Pages and by the 1990s, he was responsible for more than 800 directory titles nationwide, serving more than 100 U.S. telephone companies and one million advertisers. He sold his company to Bell South for an estimated price of more than $1 billion. He died of natural causes at age 91 in Oakwood, Ohio.
James Ritty. Inventor. Born in Dayton, Ohio, he opened his first saloon in Dayton, in 1871 and called it the Pony House. In 1878, he came up with an idea about making a machine that would count sales at the saloon, keep track of the money and the amount of sales. Working with his mechanic brother John, their first few attempts were total failures until he improved it by adding a paper roll to it so it could record the clerk’s sales. The new clock version register had a hole puncher built into it and the paper would have separate invisible columns that would stand for cents or dollars. Filing and receiving a patent for his cash register design in 1879, he couldn’t sell his machine to other people. So they decided to sell the patent for $6,500 to John H. Patterson in 1882, who realized the machine’s potential. In the following years Patterson made it a success and became the founder of the National Cash Register Company. Ritty was not resentful and maintained friendly relations with John H. Patterson who many times invited Ritty to attend various NCR meetings and conferences. James Ritty retired from a successful bar business in 1895. He died of heart failure at age 81 in Dayton, Ohio.
Joseph Stephen “J.S.” Cullinan. Founder of Texaco. In 1905, he moved the company base to Houston, as did all other oil businesses, causing the enormous oil boom to Houston which was responsible for its rocketing growth as a city. Cullinan was now a key player in the American oil industry, and he turned his attention to serving the country any way he could. During World War I, Cullinan served as special advisor to the Ford Administration under Herbert Hoover; in 1928 he served on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Committee; he supported the development of the Houston Ship Channel and the Houston Symphony. Joseph Cullinan was visiting Herbert Hoover in Palo Alto, California when he was stricken and died of pneumonia on March 11, 1937. In 1959, The Texas Company would change its name to Texaco.
Horace Austin Warner “HAW” Tabor. Business magnate. Noted Colorado mining prospector. Unknown to fame until approaching the age of fifty, chance suddenly brought him considerable wealth and reputation. A few years later another throw of the dice as quickly returned him to his former obscurity but left in the wake a colorful character in the annals of Colorado history. Also known as The Bonanza King of Leadville, was an American prospector, businessman, and Republican politician. His life is the subject of Douglas Moore’s opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe; and the 1932 Hollywood biographical movie: Silver Dollar. Also, Graham Masterton’s 1987 novel Silver has a protagonist named Henry T. Roberts, whose life includes incidents from Tabor’s. He rose from a smalltime prospector to one of the wealthiest men in Colorado because of his luck in Leadville’s silver mines. He became tabloid fodder through his romantic liaisons with Baby Doe Tabor and his fall from power when the United States changed to the gold standard. This shift devalued silver, hurting many in the silver mining industry and devastating fortunes overnight.
Joseph A. Campbell. Businessman. A fruit merchant, in 1869, he and Abraham Anderson, an ice box manufacturer, formed Joseph Campbell Preserve Company, in Camden, New Jersey. This company would eventually become the Campbell Soup Company after his death in 1900. His children, the successors to the business, changed the business name to Campbell Soup Company in 1921, and introduced condensed soup in 1922. Today Campbell’s Soup continues to be one of the most successful soup manufacturers in the United States.
Joseph Albert Albertson. Businessman. Born in Yukon, Oklahoma Territory. He was one of four sons born to Rhoda and Earl Albertson. Before he was three, the family moved to Caldwell, Idaho, in 1909, where Joe grew up. After graduating from Caldwell High School in 1925, Albertson studied business for two years at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. While in college in 1927, he began his career in the grocery industry as a clerk at a local Safeway store. In 1930, Joe married his college classmate Kathryn McCurry, of Boise, Idaho. They had one daughter, Barbara. Joe spent ten years working his way up at Safeway, but he knew that he would open his own store. In July 1939, he did just that. With $5,000 of his own money and a $7,500 loan from his wife’s aunt, Albertsons Store 101, at 16th and State Streets in Boise, Idaho, opened with new services that customers hadn’t seen in a grocery store before. He introduced things to shoppers like a scratch bakery, an automatic doughnut machine and one of the first magazine racks in the country. He also sold big, double dip ice cream cones, fresh popcorn and roasted nuts, which all became a hit with shoppers. Joe opened his second and third Albertsons stores in Nampa and Caldwell, Idaho in 1940. During the years of World War II, when food was being rationed, he filled the empty shelves with health and beauty products, general household goods and other non-food items. His reputation for generosity and community involvement grew during those war years. His stores promoted war bonds and sponsored scrap drives that collected aluminum, steel, fats, and paper for recycling. It was only the beginning of a chain that, sixty years later, would have over 600 Albertsons stores, bringing Joe’s visionary idea for a grocery store to millions of customers throughout the country.
J. R. “Jack” Simplot. Businessman. Born John Richard Simplot, at his death he was the oldest billionaire on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, with a fortune of over $3 billion. At age 14 he quit school and left home, working on a farm while looking for opportunities to make money, and eventually using the profit from several small ventures to found the J.R. Simplot Company. By World War II, Simplot was the nation’s largest shipper of fresh potatoes and a major supplier of dried vegetables to the military. After making a deal to supply McDonald’s, the Simplot Company became the fast food chain’s primary provider of french fries and hash browns. Constantly searching for opportunities to diversify, Simplot expanded his holdings to include fertilizer production, oil, animal feed and seed, beef cattle, and ski resorts. In the early 1980s he provided startup capital for Micron Technology, one of the largest makers of the Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) computer chips that are integral components of digital devices. The Simplot Company has expanded internationally, including purchase of Australia’s largest food processing company. It is one of the world’s largest frozen-potato processors, distributing more than 3 billion pounds of french fries and other potato products worldwide each year. J.R. Simplot was active in Idaho politics as a supporter of Republican candidates. Idaho Governor Butch Otter was his former son-in-law.
Theodore Edward “Ted” Hustead. Businessman. He co-Founded the Wall Drug shopping mall in Wall, South Dakota, and built into a successful tourist attraction. His campaign of erecting signs for Wall Drug pervasively through South Dakota and neighboring states inspired fans of the attraction to erect signs of their own in other famous sites, sometimes thousands of miles from South Dakota.
Albert Russel Erskine. Industrialist. As president of the Studebaker Corporation from 1915 to 1933, he literally guided the Studebaker company from the “horse and buggy” days into the position of a major player in modern auto production. The 1927 Studebaker Erskine Roadster Model 50J with rumble seat was named for him. Only six are known to exist worldwide today. In 1925, the Hotel Russel Erskine in Huntsville, Alabama, was built and named for him. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. He also served on the Board of Trustees at Notre Dame University where he initiated the Albert Russel Erskine Award which designated a panel to choose the best college football team of the year. The award was the forerunner of the method used today in deciding the collegiate champion. The 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing depression caused Erskine to lose almost everything in a matter of just four years. To start over seemed an overwhelming task. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his heart.
Curtis Leroy “Curt” Carlson. Businessman. He was the founder of Carlson Companies Incorporated and creator of Gold Bond Stamps, one of America’s biggest private firms. In 1938, he used a $55 loan to start his Gold Bond Stamps Company. Based on trading stamps to provide consumer incentive for grocery stores, gas stations and other businesses, the stamps could be redeemed for a large array of merchandise. For decades, his business was a $7.8 billion driving force in travel, marketing and hospitality with over 50,000 employees. His holdings included Radisson Hotels, Country Kitchen International, Country Inns, T.G.I. Fridays and many more. He died from complications of a stroke at age 84.