Penney, J. C.

Penney, J. C. (James Cash)

(1875–1971) retailer, philanthropist; born in Hamilton, Mo. In 1897 he moved to Colorado for health reasons. There he worked in a local dry goods store, moving to Wyoming when his partners opened a branch in Kemmerer, Wyo. (1902). He opened his own store in 1904; in 1907 he bought the two stores of his partners; by 1911 he owned a chain of 22 stores. He went public in 1927, giving shares of stock to all managers and including all employees in profit-sharing. By 1971, J. C. Penney had 1,660 stores and $4 billion in sales, making it the second-largest nonfood retailer in the U.S.A. A devout Christian—he published 50 Years with the Golden Rule (1950)—he gave generously to his favorite charities and maintained an active role in his company until his death.