William Wrigley, Jr.
|William Wrigley, Jr|
September 30, 1861|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||January 26, 1932
Phoenix, Arizona, United States
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California|
|Net worth||USD $34 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/1707th of US GNP)|
|Children||Dorothy, Philip Knight Wrigley|
|Parents||William and Mary A. Ladley|
William Wrigley, Jr. (September 30, 1861–January 26, 1932) was a U.S. chewing gum industrialist. He was founder and eponym of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in 1891. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Wrigley played an instrumental role in the development of Catalina Island, off the shore of Los Angeles, California. He bought a controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company in 1919 and with the company received the island. Wrigley improved the island with public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, the Casino building, and extensive plantings of trees, shrubs, and flowers. He also sought to create an enterprise that would help employ local residents. By making use of clay and minerals found on the island at a beach near Avalon, in 1927 William Wrigley, Jr., created the Pebbly Beach quarry and tile plant. Along with creating jobs for Avalon residents, the plant also supplied material for Wrigley's numerous building projects on the island. After the building of Avalon's Casino (see Avalon Theater (Catalina)) in 1929, the Catalina Clay Products Tile and Pottery Plant began churning out handmade glazed tiles, dinnerware, and other practical household items such as bookends. Nowadays, Catalina art pottery items are highly popular antique collectibles.
However, William Wrigley, Jr.'s greatest legacy was his plan for the future of Catalina Island—that it be protected for all generations to enjoy. His son, P. K. Wrigley, in 1972 established the Catalina Island Conservancy for this purpose and transferred all family ownership to it. Wrigley is honored by the Wrigley Memorial in the Wrigley Botanical Gardens on the island.
In 1916 Wrigley bought a minority stake in the Chicago Cubs baseball team as part of a group headed by Charles Weeghman, former owner of the Federal League's Chicago Whales. Over the next four years, as Weeghman's lunch-counter business soured, he was forced to sell more and more of his stock to Wrigley in order to raise money. By 1921 Wrigley was majority owner. Wrigley Field, the Cubs' ballpark in Chicago, is named for him. The now-demolished former home of the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, at that time the Cubs' top farm team, was also called Wrigley Field. He purchased the Chicago Cubs from Albert Lasker in 1925. The Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, was partially financed and wholly owned by Wrigley, who finished the nearby Wrigley Mansion as a winter cottage in 1931. At 16,000 square feet (1,500 m2), it was the smallest of his five residences.
William Wrigley, Jr., died on January 26, 1932, at his Phoenix, Arizona mansion, at age 70, and was interred in his custom-designed sarcophagus located in the tower of the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens near his beloved home on California's Catalina Island. But a decade after his death, Wrigley's remains were moved during World War II due to wartime security concerns. His original grave memorial marker still adorns the tower site. Wrigley was reinterred in the corridor alcove end of the Sanctuary of Gratitude, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. He left his fortune to daughter Dorothy Wrigley Offield and son Philip K. Wrigley. The son continued to run the company businesses for the next 45 years until his death in 1977, and his ashes today rest near his father, in the same Sanctuary of Gratitude alcove.
See also 
- Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996), The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present, Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, p. xiii, ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8, OCLC 33818143
- "Catalina Pottery", Old and Sold Antiques Auction & Marketplace
- Sampler Tour of Art Tiles from Catalina Island