Col. Henry Crown: The Long Shadow of His Legacy

AT THE END OF WORLD WAR I, HENRY CROWN WAS 23. HE HAD an eighth-grade education, but the prospect of working for others held no interest. Using his wits and his reputation as a go-getter, he managed to borrow $10,000 to bankroll Material Service Corp. His company earned $7,000 in year one, on sales of $218,000, clearly substantial in 1919. The company grew dramatically to become a key Chicago business.

During World War II, Henry Crown, a patriot, enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 45, having memorized the eye chart and spoken during the stethoscope exam to cover weak eyes and a heart murmur. He never lied in business matters but fibbed that time so he could serve his beloved country. When the army ...

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