Three Walgreens directors to retire

DEERFIELD, Ill. Three members of Walgreens' board of directors have announced plans to retire effective at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Jan. 13.

Charles “Cork” Walgreen III, grandson of the company’s founder, will step down after serving on the board for 46 years. Longstanding directors Cordell Reed and Marilou M. von Ferstel also will retire from the board in January.

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 VP. He joined the board in 1963 and was named CEO in 1971 and chairman in 1976. During his leadership, Walgreen brought the company back to its pharmacy roots. 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 convenient corner locations that Walgreens is known for today. Walgreen retired as CEO in 1998 after 23 consecutive 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.

“We’re in a terrific position to keep growing our business,” said Walgreen. “I leave with great confidence in the future of our company. It’s an exciting time to be Walgreens.”

Cordell Reed has served on Walgreens board of directors since 1994. He retired as a SVP 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. Reed became the third African-American to earn that graduate degree from the school.

Marilou von Ferstel was elected a member of the Walgreens board of directors in 1987. She retired as EVP and general manger of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in 1997. Von Ferstel, who received a bachelor’s degree from Barat College, Lake Forest, Ill., and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, was the first woman elected to the Chicago City Council. She also worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune.

“Our appreciation can never be adequately expressed for all Cork has done for [Walgreens] – our record of sustained success over many years, our outstanding assets and our culture of honesty and fair dealing,” said Walgreens chairman Alan G. McNally. “I want to thank Cordell and Marilou for their invaluable insights and perspectives, and for enriching the board’s deliberations for many years. We are grateful to each of these outstanding directors for their dedicated service and wish them the very best in retirement.”