|James Cash Penney|
Penney circa 1902
|Born||James Cash Penney Jr.|
September 16, 1875
Hamilton, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||February 12, 1971 95) (aged|
New York, New York, U.S.
|Known for||Establishing J. C. Penney department stores in 1902|
Bertha Alva Hess
(m. 1899;her death 1910)
Mary Hortense Kimball
(m. 1919;her death 1923)
Caroline Marie Autenrieth
(m. 1926;his death 1971)
James Cash Penney III
Mary Frances Penney
|Parent(s)||James Cash Penney Sr.|
Mary Frances Paxton
James Cash "J. C." Penney Jr. (September 16, 1875 – February 12, 1971) was an American businessman and entrepreneur who founded the J. C. Penney stores in 1902.
J.C. Penney was born on September 16, 1875, on a farm outside of Hamilton, Caldwell County, Missouri. He was the seventh of twelve children, only six of whom lived to adulthood, born to James Cash Penney, Sr. and Mary Frances (née Paxton) Penney. Penney's father was a Baptist preacher and farmer whose strict discipline included making his son pay for his own clothing once he reached his late pre-teens.
After graduation from Hamilton High School, Penney intended to attend college with the hopes of becoming a lawyer. However, his father's untimely death forced a change in plans, and Penney was forced to take a job as a store clerk to help support the family. Penney's health problems caused him to venture west to Longmont, Colorado.
In 1898, James Cash Penney began working for a small chain of stores in the western United States called the Golden Rule stores. In 1902, owners Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan, impressed by his work ethic and salesmanship, offered him one-third partnership in a new store he would open. Penney invested $2,000 and moved to Kemmerer, Wyoming, to open a store there. He participated in opening two more stores, and when Callahan and Johnson dissolved their partnership in 1907 he purchased full interest in all three stores.
By 1912, there were 34 stores in the Rocky Mountain States. In 1913, he moved the company to the Kearns Building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The company was incorporated under the new name, J. C. Penney Company. In 1916, he began to expand the chain east of the Mississippi and during the 1920s, the Penney stores expanded nationwide, with 120 stores in 1920 (mostly still in the west) By 1924, Penneys' reported income of more than $1 million annually. 120,000 acres (490 km2) in Clay County. Some of this land became Penney Farms. This was also the start of Foremost Dairy Products Inc. Penney later recruited Paul E. Reinhold to run the dairy. Most of this work was halted when the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression left Penney in financial ruin.The number of stores reached 1,400 by 1929. The large income allowed Penney to be heavily involved in many philanthropic causes during the 1920s. By 1921 Penney had a home (Belle Isle) on Biscayne Bay in Miami. Penney and partner Ralph W. Gwinn had invested heavily in Florida real estate including
After the 1929 stock crash, Penney lost virtually all his personal wealth, and borrowed against his life insurance policies to help the company meet its payroll. The financial setbacks took a toll on his health. Penney checked himself into the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he was treated. After hearing the hymn "God Will Take Care of You" (written by Civilla Durfee Martin) being sung at a service in the hospital's chapel, Penney became a born-again Christian.Even after relinquishing daily operating management of the company, Penney continued his active involvement in managing the company and its stores. In 1940, during a visit to a store in Des Moines, Iowa, he trained a young Sam Walton on how to wrap packages with a minimal amount of paper and ribbon. He remained as chairman of the board until 1946, and after that as honorary chairman until his death in 1971. Until the end of his life he continued to go to his offices.
He also subscribed to what was called "Blue Laws". His stores were closed on Sunday so employees could attend church.
Penney was married three times. His first marriage, to Bertha Alva Hess (1869–1910) in 1899,produced two sons before her death from pneumonia:
After Bertha's death in 1910, he remarried to Mary Hortense Kimball (d. 1923) in July 1919. Mary gave birth to their son before her death of unspecified medical issues:
In 1926, Penney married Caroline Marie Autenrieth (1895–1992).She was badly hurt in 1928 when she fell from a horse at their estate in White Plains. They had two daughters:
Penney lived in New York City at 888 Park Avenue, though he spent the winters in Palm Springs, California. On December 26, 1970, Penney fell and fractured his hip. Just a few weeks later, he suffered a heart attack and never fully recovered. He died February 12, 1971. The Reverend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale delivered the eulogy at Penney's funeral. Penney was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City, not far from that of fellow retail entrepreneur, F. W. Woolworth. His estate was valued at approximately $35 million.
Penney was a Freemason most of his adult life, being initiated into Wasatch Lodge No. 1 Free and Accepted Masons of Utah, on April 18, 1911.A member of both the Scottish and York Rites, Penney was coroneted a 33rd Degree on October 16, 1945, and received the Gold Distinguished Service Award by the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, in Kansas City, Missouri in 1958. He typically wore a large ring showing his Masonic degree.
Penney was a member of two professional collegiate fraternities: Alpha Gamma Rho for agriculture and Alpha Kappa Psi for business.
Penney was involved with the founding of the University of Miami and served on its Board of Trustees from 1926 to 1930.
At the end of the Great Depression, Penney teamed with Thomas J. Watson, President and Founder of IBM, Arthur Godfrey, the radio and TV personality; and Norman Vincent Peale, a minister, inspirational speaker, and author of The Power of Positive Thinking, to help Henry Simler, an executive with the Remington Rand company. [ citation needed ]form the first board of 40Plus, an organization that helps unemployed managers and executives.
Penney founded the James C. Penney Foundation in 1954. The foundation was restructured in 1999 as the Penney Family Fund, and is no longer affiliated with J.C. Penney Co., Inc., or its corporate giving program. Today, the fund is part of the Common Counsel Foundation, an Oakland, California, consortium of family philanthropic foundations and individual donors. The Penney Family Fund endows organizations in Oregon, California, and Washington State that work to advance human rights, community social, political, economic empowerment, government accountability, and environmental sustainability.
In 1960 Penney teamed up with the University of Missouri to establish the Penney-Missouri Awards to recognize excellence in Women's Page journalism, hoping to improve the sections where his stores most often advertised.