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'Cork' Walgreen, two Walgreens directors to retire
November 25th, 2009
Charles R. "Cork" Walgreen
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Charles R. "Cork" Walgreen III, grandson of Walgreen Co.’s founder, plans to step down from the company's board early next year, along with longstanding directors Cordell Reed and Marilou von Ferstel.
Most recently chairman emeritus, Walgreen served on the drug store chain's board for 46 years, the company said Wednesday. Plans call for him, Reed and von Ferstel to retire as of the retailer's annual shareholder meeting on Jan. 13.
"We're in a terrific position to keep growing our business," Walgreen said in a statement. "I leave with great confidence in the future of our company. It's an exciting time to be at Walgreens."
Walgreen, who began working for the company as a stock boy in 1952, earned a pharmacy degree from the University of Michigan in 1958 and held positions including pharmacist, district manager, regional manager and vice president. He joined the board in 1963 and was named chief executive officer in 1971 and chairman in 1976.
At the helm in the 1970s, Walgreen brought the retailer back to its pharmacy roots, according to the company. He made the decision to divest the company's freestanding restaurants, among other noncore businesses, and led the change in the 1990s to pull stores out of shopping centers and onto the corner locations that Walgreens is known for today.
Walgreen retired as CEO in 1998 after 23 straight years of record growth, six stock splits and an increase in the company's market capitalization from $164 million to $19 billion under his leadership, Walgreens said.
"Our appreciation can never be adequately expressed for all Cork has done for Walgreen Co. — our record of sustained success over many years, our outstanding assets and our culture of honesty and fair dealing," Walgreens chairman Alan McNally said in a statement.
Reed has served on the Walgreens board since 1994. He retired as a senior vice president of Commonwealth Edison Co. in 1997 after 37 years with the company. Reed earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in engineering from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., and became the third African-American to earn that graduate degree from the school.
Von Ferstel was elected to the Walgreens board in 1987. She retired as executive vice president and general manager of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in 1997. Walgreens said von Ferstel was the first woman elected to the Chicago City Council, and she has worked as a reporter and a feature writer for the Chicago Tribune.
"I want to thank Cordell and Marilou for their invaluable insights and perspectives, and for enriching the board’s deliberations for many years," McNally commented. "We are grateful to each of these outstanding directors for their dedicated service and wish them the very best in retirement."