William Wrigley Jr.
|William L. 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)|
|Spouse(s)||Ada Elizabeth Foote|
|Children||Dorothy, Philip Knight Wrigley|
|Parent(s)||William and Mary A. Ladley|
William L. Wrigley Jr. (September 30, 1861 – January 26, 1932) was an American chewing gum industrialist. He was founder and eponym of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in 1891. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wrigley Jr. is rumored to have co-founded his namesake company with a lesser-known Canadian named M. Bessemer, who was a close childhood friend of Wrigley Jr.
Wrigley was born on September 30, 1861, during the Civil War, in Philadelphia.
By age 11, Wrigley was being expelled from school about once every three weeks. He had a dynamic personality: intelligent, brash, bold. But he was also often bored and restless, especially in school. Teachers wrote many letters to his father, complaining about the boy's rebelliousness. Finally, Wrigley had enough. In 1873, the summer before 7th grade, he ran away to New York City. With his last nickel, Wrigley bought several newspapers and set up shop as a newsie. His bed was the grating outside a newspaper building. When the presses rolled, heat sweaped up through the air ducts to warm him. On rainy nights, he slept under parked horse wagons, using newspapers as his blanket. Wrigley, sick and tired of this harsh life, decided to become a sailor. He had no trouble getting hired as a seaman, but hated his job peeling potatoes in the galley. At summer's end he jumped ship and made his way back home. His father, who owned a soap factory, was happy to see his eldest son. He enrolled Wrigley in school again, hoping he changed. He didn't. One day, in 8th grade, he threw a pie at the school's nameplate. He was expelled again--for good. "Your school life has been unsuccessful," said Wrigley, Sr. So he handed his son a paddle and ordered him to work at the soap factory. The 12-year-old had the hardest job in the plant: stirring vats of thick, steaming soap.
For the next year, Wrigley worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. He earned only $6 a month. But he never complained. Instead, he stirred, planned, and waited. When Wrigley turned 13, he begged his father to promote him to travelling salesman. "You're too young," said Wrigley, Sr. But his son's newfound drive and determination impressed him. The young Wrigley got his promotion. Equipped with a wagon and a team of 4 horses he traveled happily throughout Pennsylvania, New York, and New England. People liked the handsome, blue-eye boy. He had a knack for good conversation and he bent over backwards to make his customers happy. He cajoled even the grouchiest of shopkeepers to buy from him. Wrigley, Sr. beamed with pride. For the next 16 years, the former grammar school dropout ruled as the company's top salesman.
In 1891, at the age of 29, Wrigley moved from Philadelphia to Chicago to go into business for himself. He had $32 to his name and with it he formed a business to sell Wrigley's Scouring Soap. He offered customers small premiums, particularly baking powder, as an incentive to buy his soap. Finding the baking powder was more popular than his soap, Wrigley switched to selling baking powder, and giving his customers two packages of chewing gum for each can of baking powder they purchased. Again, Wrigley found that the premium he offered was more popular than his base product, and his company began to concentrate on the manufacture and sale of chewing gum. In this business, Wrigley made his name and fortune.
Wrigley played an instrumental role in the development of Santa Catalina Island, California, 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 producing glazed tiles, dinnerware and other household items such as bookends.
Another of Wrigley's legacies was his plan for the future of Catalina Island—that it be protected for future generations to enjoy. In 1972, his son, Philip K. Wrigley, 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 declined, he was forced to sell much of his stock in the ball club to Wrigley. By 1918, Weeghman had sold all of his stock to Wrigley, making Wrigley the largest shareholder and principal owner, and 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. Wrigley 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. He 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. In 1947, Wrigley's remains were moved to allow the gardens to be made public. There is a rumor that the 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 until his death in 1977. His ashes were interred near his father, in the same Sanctuary of Gratitude alcove.
|William Wrigley Jr.|
- 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
- "William Wrigley Dies At Age Of 70. Starting With Nothing In Boyhood, He Amassed Fortune and Changed Habits of Nations". New York Times. January 27, 1932.
- "Wrigley Exhibit Opens at the Catalina Island Museum Tonight". Catalina Museum Website.
- "Catalina Pottery", Old and Sold Antiques Auction & Marketplace
- Sampler Tour of Art Tiles from Catalina Island
- Nancy Wride, A Catalina Oasis Offers the Mortal and the Vital The Los Angeles Times June 14, 2003