Walgreen, Charles R.

Walgreen, Charles R. (Rudolph)

(1873–1939) drug store chain owner; born near Galesburg, Ill. An accident in a shoe factory led to the loss of part of a finger on his left hand; the doctor who treated him pursuaded him to become a druggist's apprentice. In 1893 he went to Chicago, became a registered pharmacist (1897) and then fought in the Spanish-American War. He returned to Chicago and worked as a pharmacist for druggist Issac W. Blood, whom he bought out in 1902 when Blood retired. He acquired his second store in 1909 and organized C. R. Walgreen and Company. In 1916 the name was changed to Walgreen Company, with seven stores. His drugstore innovations included lunch counters that had soda fountains, and he is credited with introducing the "malted milk." A talented retailer, he continued to manufacture some of his drugs to keep prices competitive and quality high; by 1939, 25,000 different articles were being manufactured by Walgreen. In 1927 he had 110 stores. He established the Charles R. Walgreen Foundation for the Study of American Institutions at the University of Chicago (1937).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.