Myrtle Walgreen

Full name

Myrtle Ruth Norton Walgreen

Alternative names

Mrs. Charles Walgreen

Presence at Shimer



Academy period trustee


Dixon, IL

Myrtle Ruth Norton Walgreen, wife of drugstore entrepreneur Charles Walgreen, was a member of the Board of Trustees of Shimer College during the late Academy period and earliest Great Books period. She joined the Board on June 23, 1943.[1] During her tenure meetings were frequently held at the Walgreens' Hazelwood Farm, near Dixon.

Myrtle Walgreen's autobiography, Never a Dull Day, was cowritten by Margueritte Harmon Bro, wife of Albin Bro.

Shimer connectionsEdit


  • in Moorhead, 1983, The Shimer College Presidency, pp. 95-96:
    Mrs.Charles Walgreen joined the Board of Trustees on June 23, 1943 (Annual Report of the President, July 8, 1943) af­ter being encouraged by President Bro. The news of Mrs. Walgreen's appointment to the Board came at a time when some of the faculty had begun to voice frustration over their work loads. Bro's knack for timing was perfect, since the news of Mrs. Walgreen's appointment impressed the Board and reduced the impact of the faculty discontent.



Writings about ShimerEdit

  • in Chapter 32, Never a Dull Day, pp. 292-295:
    ALTHOUGH I traveled considerably through the forties and fifties I was certainly not on the wing all the time. Far from it. Life went on as usual at Hazelwood, which meant that a great many guests came and went. Among them was Albin Bro, president of Shimer College, and his family. Shimer is located at Mount Carroll, Illinois, only thirty miles from Dixon, so I became well acquainted with the school and its beautiful little campus with Georgian colonial buildings. The more I saw of it the more interested I became in the problems of modern education and the next thing I knew I was a trustee of the college and served for a dozen years.
    As soon as I took up my duties on that Board I set myself to finding out what absorbed the interests of academic people. My Aunt Julia must have been leaning over the heavenly parapets urging me on for I pored over surveys and reports, scanned estimates for renewal of the heating plant, for tennis court construction and building new riding stables; I learned about college maintenance, faculty salaries, extra-curricular activities, art exhibits, town cooperation and curriculum planning in terms of four divisions: humanities, social sciences, biological sciences and physical sciences. It was too late for me to take the courses but I worked at my end of the line which was grounds beautification.
    Nobody could work with Albin Bro and not be interested in foreign students and many of "our" students came to Hazelwood. Then each spring the entire Board of Trustees with their wives or husbands came over for a two-day session. Although we had as many larks as the college students themselves we certainly turned out work over those weekends. President Caldwell, then of the University of Chicago, always said that of all the Boards he sat on the Shimer Board meeting at Hazelwood accomplished the most in a given length of time.
    I made many interesting friends through those Shimer contacts. Three Chinese scholars who visited Hazelwood wrote poems for my treasure chest—T. Z. Koo, Hubert Liang, and Laurence Liu. I recall with special pleasure Mr. Koo's rising at dawn to play his flute. Eugene Exman, vice president of Harper and Row, became a warm friend and I recall that on his first visit he suggested that we meet at sunrise before the window which overlooks the river and have a period of meditation together, one of the loveliest early mornings in years. Vachel Lindsay's sister, Olive Wakefield, read her brother's poems in the living room. The a cappella choir came often to sing under the pine trees, as did the choir from St. Olaf's College when visiting at Shimer. The Shimer faculty had picnics; the seniors had a yearly round-up; the art students came to sketch and paint.
    Another friend who came through my Shimer connection was Frank Humburt O'Hara, long-time director of dramatic activities at the University of Chicago. He was one of the reluctant visitors who held off coming but when he found an old-shoes atmosphere he became another of the comfortable old-shoes himself and regaled us in his quiet merry way with tales of his journeys by cargo ship to little known places around the world.
    One of the best of good companions of Shimer association is Beulah Bondi. I had seen her in many of her motion pictures, on the stage and on television, but I had never met her until she came back to the college about the time of the fortieth anniversary of her commencement. Later I visited in her beautiful Hollywood home where she has a room at the top of the house reserved for prayer and meditation, certainly an oasis of peace in a busy motion picture life. When she came to stay with me in Chicago she lost her heart to a pair of provincial beds of the sort she hunted for years. Eventually I was happy to send those beds to her. By how many intimate ties do we become bound to our friends!
    Two incidents concerning Albin Bro still give me a good chuckle. I had a friend, Jeanette Bradford, who was a professional astrologer. She was also rather a determined lady. One of her determinations was to cast a horoscope for the college, using data from Albin's life as well as from the college history. But Albin was not about to have his horoscope cast. However, one week along in 1949 when he was at Hazelwood he found himself cornered for a matter of two hours or more. When he came out of the room where Jeanette had deciphered his stars he was scratching his head and repeating, "She couldn't have deduced so many facts." It seemed that, among other things, she had even deduced that he must have broken his leg in some game when he was eleven years old, as he had. But she was even more bewildered and kept asking, "But could the Shimer Board be called the United States Government? Be- cause the chart shows that he is surrounded with government." Obviously he was not working for the government and I think he was relieved to have her wrong. He went home on Monday still insisting she was a "wizardess" and she went off insisting that the trustees must be representatives of the federal government. Early on Tuesday morning the Department of State called Albin to ask him to go to Korea as cultural officer, a position which he accepted. Jeanette's only comment was, "You see, the government was already working for him and that was the same thing as if he had been working for the government."
    The other incident was a fortuitous meeting on a train. In the diner I sat opposite a man who finally broke the silence to comment on the weather and give me an opportunity to talk! We had many common interests and before leaving he handed me his card; he was vice-president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. When I told him my name he told me that the Walgreen Company had been the first to buy a certain telegraph-tape machine. His last friendly remark was, "If there is ever anything I can do for you I hope you will let me know."
    A short time afterward I mentioned this meeting to Albin Bro and he immediately said, "There is something you can do all right. College telegrams which come in on Saturday are held up in a neighboring town until Monday, which sometimes causes parents a great deal of inconvenience." The short of it was that my new friend took care of the telegram situation and proved me a useful trustee.


  1. Moorhead 1983, p. 96.

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