George Robert Herberger Oral History
George Robert Herberger was born on September 12, 1904 in Osakis Minnesota. He attended high school in Hollywood, California and graduated in 1922. And then attended Hibbing Junior College and University of Minnesota. He was also the founder of Herberger department stores in St. Cloud as well as the president and chairman of the board for Butler Brothers. He was a philanthropist who funded and developed many organizations including Salvation Army Herberger Center and Phoenix Symphony Association. In 1934, he married Katherine Kierland and they had three children: Gary, Judd, and Gail. He passed away on February 2, 1999, at the age of 94 and buried in Camelback Cemetery in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
In an interview conducted on October 23, 1973, Herberger discussed his family background and how his grand parents and parents first settled in Minnesota. He recalled how he started working in his father’s department store in Osakis, Minnesota, learning about the retail industry and business at a young age. In 1922, Herberger graduated high school in Hollywood, California. He discussed how he and his father came to back to St. Cloud and bought the inventory from a dry goods store company and opened up a small department store during the 1930s, gradually building up their retail business. Herberger’s gradually expanded to other cities in the upper Midwest. After World War II, Herberger’s continued to grow but his role in the company shifted. He moved to Chicago and became president and chairman of the board for Butler Brothers, the nation’s largest wholesaler. By the time of this interview, Herberger’s was sold to key people within the company and he no longer held any stock, though he was still involved in the business. In 1950, Herberger and his family moved to Arizona and invested in land for development of homes and businesses, as well as establishing water companies. He described his involvement in civic activities, including the symphony and creation of city parks. Herberger touched on his involvement with the Republican Party politics.
Interviewed by Calvin Gower
St. Cloud State University, "George Robert Herberger Oral History" (1973). General. 15.