Mr. Joe Albertson: The most famous person from Yukon

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Who do you think is the most famous person from Yukon, Oklahoma? Is this person still living or will they have flowers placed at their gravesite this weekend? What person do you believe has made the biggest impact on this community and is known throughout the land because of it?

There are many different qualifications for this unique title. It is a very subjective question. I guess so many of you readers would probably answer the question by telling me the most famous person from Yukon, Oklahoma is Country music superstar Garth Brooks or maybe former Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey. Sure, Garth Brooks is now worth $400 million has his name on one of the Yukon water towers and sold out Dallas Cowboys stadium three consecutive nights, but….while Southwest Covenant School’s Dan Bailey was the kicker for the Dallas Cowboys, he earned $14 million. Oh, and by the way, Dan Bailey had 14 game-winning kicks during his time in Arlington. Folks, that is $1 million per kick!

Anyway. Let’s light up and just move along. In 1993, I had a phone call at the Yukon Review, from a public relations office in Boise, Idaho. The nice lady asked me if I could publish an obituary for her boss that had just passed away. The lady told me she would fax the notification to me then began to tell me a little about this person who was born in Yukon, Oklahoma in 1906. She told me about this businessman who had been born here when this place was known as the Oklahoma Territory. He had three brothers and his mom and dad Rhoda and Earl had lived in Yukon, Oklahoma before they moved to Idaho. After he graduated from Caldwell High School in 1925 he took some business courses at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. (Much like a Redlands Community College) While he was in college in 1927 he began his career in the grocery industry as a clerk for the old Safeway grocery store chain and in 1930 he married Kathryn McCurry who was from Boise, Idaho. The couple had just one daughter, Barbara and he spent about the next decade working at Safeway. He realized he wanted to do something for himself and that was to open his very own grocery store and run it the way he wanted to run it.

In July of 1939 he took $5,000 of his own money and $7,500 of his wife’s aunt’s money and opened his very first grocery store in Boise. This young man from Yukon, Oklahoma began to intrigue his customers with features that had never before been seen in a grocery store. (just like when Jim Snyder, Sr. debuted his Town Plaza shopping center store that had carpet on the floors!)

His store had an automated donut machine, double dip ice cream cones, fresh popcorn, roasted nuts and the very first magazine rack in America! He soon had more friends in low places than Garth Brooks ever thought about!

He then went on in 1940 to open his second and third stores in Idaho and as World War II began and food was being rationed (like we are doing right now during this damned pandemic) he stocked his shelves with general household goods, health aids, beauty aids and so many other non-food items.

This Yukon-born man began to grow his reputation for generosity and involvement in the community.

All his stores heavily promoted war bonds and sponsored scrap drives that collected aluminum, steel, fats and paper that was to be recycled for the war effort.

All of these actions from this most famous person from Yukon led, just 60 years later, to the chain of 600 Albertson’s grocery stores. All these stores were the vision, from a Yukon guy, that grew to serve millions of customers throughout our country.

The public relations lady then told me that our hometown’s Joe Albertson had passed away at his home in Idaho and that he was 87 years old.

I have often thought about Mr. Albertson and his vision. I guess I just was always so excited when the Albertson corporate land surveyors flew over the corner property at 10th Street and Cornwell when they built the FOUNDERS SQUARE Albertson grocery store back in the 90’s. They brought in their TOP GUN Mr. Frosty Peak to manage that store. Frosty and Yukon City manager Jim Crosby negotiated a deal to bring in the Cornwell/ I-40 interchange as another port into our community! I’m sure Joe Albertson looked down from Heaven and was well pleased with Frosty and Crosby.

So. Who do you think is Yukon’s most famous person? My vote is the old man Mr. Joe Albertson. Even though he has gone and the sign in front of the store reads HOMELAND: I will remind you of this; Yukon’s Joe Albertson’s vision has ultimately fed your family probably many more times than you can count.

This Memorial Day weekend, go to Homeland, buy some donuts, buy a soda or just go to the magazine rack and take a few moments to thank this great Yukon man who was here before you.

Thank you Joe.

Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?

Yukon Progress Publisher Randy K. Anderson can be reached at randyk.anderson@sbcglobal.net or (405) 517-5168