Charles Rudolph Walgreen
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|Charles R. Walgreen|
Walgreen, pictured above, is the founder of Walgreens.
October 9, 1873|
|Died||December 11, 1939
Cause of death
|malaria and yellow fever|
|Alma mater||Dixon Business College|
|Occupation||Founder of Walgreens|
|Spouse(s)||Myrtle Norton Walgreen|
|Children||Charles Rudolph Walgreen, Jr.
|Parents||Carl Magnus Olofsson|
He was born in Knoxville, Illinois before moving to Galesburg, Illinois at a young age. He is the son of Swedish immigrants. When his father, Carl Magnus Olofsson, came to America from Sweden, the family name was changed to Walgreen. When he was still quite young he and his family relocated to Dixon, Illinois in 1887. He attended Dixon High School, Dixon, IL (1889) and Dixon Business College. He was a member of the international fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon.
As a young adult, he lost part of a finger in an accident at a shoe factory. The doctor who treated him persuaded him to become an apprentice for a local druggist. His interest in pharmacy dated from the time he was employed by D.S. Horton, a druggist in Dixon where he was apprenticed as a pharmacist. In 1893, Walgreen went to Chicago and became a registered pharmacist. At the start of the Spanish-American War, Walgreen enlisted with the 1st Illinois Volunteer Cavalry. While serving in Cuba, he contracted malaria and yellow fever, which continued to plague him for the rest of his life.
After his discharge, Walgreen returned to Chicago and worked as a pharmacist for Isaac Blood. In 1901, when Blood retired, Walgreen bought the store from him. He opened a second store in 1909, and by 1916 owned nine drug stores, which he incorporated as Walgreen Co. Walgreens was one of the first chains to carry non-pharmaceuticals as a mainstay of the store's retail selection. Walgreens offered low-priced lunch counters, built its own ice cream factory, and introduced the malted milk shake in 1922. By 1927, Walgreen had established 110 stores.
His son Charles Rudolph Walgreen, Jr. (March 4, 1906 – February 10, 2007) and grandson Charles R. Walgreen III both shared his name and played prominent roles in the company he founded. His daughter, Ruth Walgreen, married Justin Whitlock Dart, Sr.. Dart left the Walgreens company after they divorced, and went on to control rival Rexall Drug Stores in 1943. Ruth, in her adult years a published poet, eventually remarried and began spending winters in Tucson, Arizona, where in the early 1960s she was instrumental in establishing the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona.
He is a member of the Labor Hall of Fame.
- Griffin, Marie. Industry 'Legends' Deserve Recognition (Drug Store News, 9 October 1995)
- Ingham, John N. Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983)
- Van Doren, Charles, ed. Webster's American Biographies (Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1979)