EXPIRED: 08/27/09 – Alex Grass, 82, started off as a lawyer but upon noticing the ugliness that is Scranton, opened a health & beauty store that later became the Rite Aid chain. His son took over, fudged the books & is now doing 60 years.
For a pharmacy giant, it’s ironic that he would not know the hazards of smoking, but those were the times, and Grass fought a long hard battle with lung disease. The disease won, obviously.
But he was also also was a philanthropist who contributed to civic, health and educational organizations.
Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and educated as a lawyer, Grass’ business career took off after he bought a small health and beauty aids store, the Thrif D Discount Center, in Scranton in 1962. He had expanded the business to 50 stores and renamed it by the time it went public in a $25-a-share stock offering in 1968.
By the time he stepped down as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer in 1995, Rite Aid was the nation’s largest drugstore chain in terms of total stores and No. 2 in terms of revenue.
His son, Martin Grass, ran the Camp Hill, Pa.-based company for several years but was ousted in 1999 after he was implicated in an accounting scandal that nearly destroyed the company. The younger Grass is serving a federal prison term for conspiracy stemming from an overstatement of Rite Aid’s earnings in the late 1990s.