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 James Cash Penney, Jr

James Cash Penney, Jr

Birth
Hamilton, Caldwell County, Missouri, USA
Death 12 Feb 1971 (aged 95)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
Plot Pine Plot, Sections 135, 136
Memorial ID 803 · View Source
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Businessman. He was the founder of the JC Penney Company. Born in Hamilton, Missouri, his father was an impoverished farmer and part-time Baptist preacher. He was raised to be a devout Christian, a man whose foundation was the Golden Rule, to be self-reliant, self-disciplined, and with a strong concept of personal honor. James attended the local high school, and went to work for a local butcher and later, worked for a local dry goods merchant. After a couple of years in Hamilton, in 1898 he moved to Colorado for health reasons, and began working in a dry goods chain of stores called "The Golden Rule" stores. He showed innovation in his work, and in 1902, the owners, Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan, offered to make him a partner in the next new store that they were opening. He invested $2000 and moved to Kemmerer, Wyoming, to open up the new store there. Seeing what they liked in his management, the partners offered him full ownership of three more Golden Rule stores, which he quickly accepted. Over the next several years, he continued to expand the business; by 1912, there were 34 Golden Rule stores in the Rocky Mountain states. In 1907, the partners sold out their interest in the stores to Penney, and he took over ownership of all of the Golden Rule stores. In 1913, he incorporated the name J.C. Penney Company, and began to phase out the Golden Rule name. Yet he continued to live by the Golden Rule, including it as his personal business philosophy. In 1916, the JC Penney Company moved east of the Mississippi River and during the 1920s, the company expanded nationwide. By 1929, the company had 1400 stores in 29 states. In 1917, Penney gave up daily operating management of the chain to his trusted colleague, Earl Corder Sams, retaining the title Chairman of the Board so that he could focus on the future of the company. He was one of the first companies to add an Education Department to the company, making the education of his store employees a high priority. Remembering his own roots, he offered free business training courses to store employees who desired to get ahead. This attitude was best expressed in his most famous quote, "Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals, and I'll give you a stock clerk." In keeping with his Christian beliefs to help his fellow man, in the mid-1920s Penney established a 120,000 acre experimental farming community in Florida, where economically destitute farmers and their families could live and work until they rebuilt their lives and became independent again. Penney also established a Memorial Home Community, a residential community for retired ministers and lay persons, including their wives and families. Following retirement in 1946, he was named Honorary Chairman of the Board, a title he kept until his death in 1971. On December 26, 1970, he fell and fractured his hip. A few weeks later, he suffered a heart attack and quickly passed away. A lifelong Christian who put his faith into action to help others, he was made a 33-degree Mason and presented with their Gold Distinguished Service Award.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 803
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James Cash Penney, Jr (16 Sep 1875–12 Feb 1971), Find A Grave Memorial no. 803, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .