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Charles Walgreen III dies; grandson of drugstore chain founder

Charles R. Walgreen III, chairman emeritus of Walgreen Co., died Monday at age 80 in his Lake Forest home. | Provided

Charles R. Walgreen III, who started as a stock boy and worked his way up to CEO of the drugstore chain founded by his grandfather, died Monday at age 80.

Walgreen retired as CEO of Walgreen Co. in January 1998, and as chairman of the board in August 1999, but he remained on the board through early 2010. In all, he was with the company for 58 years and was the third Walgreen to lead the firm.

He attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a pharmacy degree in 1958. Before ascending to the top job, he served as a Walgreen’s district manager, regional director and vice president. He became president of the firm in 1969 at 33, adding the CEO title in 1971 and chairman’s title in 1976.

On his watch, the company expanded in the 1970s and shut down peripheral operations, such as its restaurants and soda fountains, in the 1980s. The company, which started with one store on Chicago’s South Side, now has about 8,200 nationwide.

In 2014, it acquired European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots, forming a new company, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., of which Walgreen is a subsidiary.

Survivors include his wife, Kathleen; six sons; two daughters; 19 grandchildren; one great-grandchild.

Services will be private.