Who is Walgreens Named For? Do Any Walgreen Family Members Still Work for the Company?

The Walgreens chain of drugstores was founded in Chicago in 1901. The first store was located in Barrett's Hotel, which was at Cottage Grove and Bowen Avenues on the South Side of Chicago. But who put the "Walgreen" in "Walgreen's"?

The namesake of the Walgreens pharmacy giant was Charles Rudolph Walgreen Sr., who was born in 1873 and died in 1939. Charles Walgreen Sr. was the son of Swedish immigrants. He graduated from Dixon Business College before apprenticing to a druggist. He became a registered pharmacist after moving to Chicago in the 1890s.

After that first store launched in 1901, Charles Walgreen Sr. expanded to four stores by 1913, and there were more than 20 "Walgreen Drugs" stores by the 1920s. Two things helped the franchise expand even quicker: Walgreens filled prescriptions for whiskey during Prohibition; and Walgreens stores introduced the malted milkshake to America at its lunch counters in 1922.

Before long, Walgreen expanded his chain of drugstores to the states bordering Illinois. By the time of Charles Walgreen Sr.'s death in 1939, there were more than 600 Walgreens retail locations.

When the founder died, his son, Charles Walgreen Jr., took over the company. He served into the 1950s, and then his son, Charles Walgreen III, ascended to the top of the company heirarchy.

Charles Walgreen III retired as CEO of Walgreens in 1998. He was the last of the Walgreen family to run the company. But not the last family member in senior management. One of his children, Kevin Walgreen, began working as a shelf-stocker in Walgreens stores in 1979, worked his way up to assistant store manager, and became a store operations vice president in 1995.

In 2006, Kevin Walgreen was named a Senior Vice President of Store Operations of the Southern Region. But in 2009, he stopped down from that position, resigning from the company his great-grandfather founded in 1901.

Today, there are no more Walgreen family members involved in running the massive drugstore and retail company that bears the family name.