Member Profile

1963 Horatio Alger Award Recipient

John Bowles*


Rexall Drug Company

“Let us promote and preserve our precious heritage as an attraction far superior to gangs and vice.”

John Bowles was born in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1916. In his youth, he delivered newspapers, worked weekends in a drugstore, mowed lawns, and did other odd jobs. By the time he was 16 years old, he had saved enough money to finance his college education.

However, the bank in which he had placed his savings failed, and he arrived at the University of North Carolina with only $45. He worked at various jobs, not only financing his education but also rebuilding his bank account.

After serving in the U.S. Navy as a gunnery officer during World War II, Bowles joined the Rexall drugstore chain as a stockroom clerk. With initiative, hard work, and creativity, he became president in six years.

President Dwight Eisenhower praised Bowles for organizing Rexall registration information centers to encourage Americans to vote. Then-Vice President Richard Nixon cited him for his goodwill contribution at a 1959 international trade fair in Poland, where Bowles and his wife, Norma, personally unpacked, stocked, and operated a Rexall drugstore for the public.