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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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WAHLERT, H. W. (Harry)

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Photo courtesy: Mark Wahlert
WAHLERT, H. W. (Harry). (St. Louis, MO, Mar. 4, 1888--Dubuque, IA, June 14, 1974). Chairman of the board, DUBUQUE PACKING COMPANY. At twenty-three, Wahlert began work at the Crey Packing Company in St. Louis and eventually rose within the company to become vice-president and general manager. After twenty years with the company, he retired as general manager and was planning a vacation in Europe when he heard of a packing plant for sale in Dubuque. (1)

In July 1931 the local meat supplier was purchased by H. W. (HARRY) Wahlert from the Christian Schmitt family for $180,000 when it employed only sixty people. Before its reopening, the plant underwent a massive renovation including the installation of special tables with "mono-metal" tops, extra windows, extra refrigeration, and the construction of rooms where hides and other inedibles were kept from separate from the other parts of the building. (1) Growing rapidly through the GREAT DEPRESSION, largely through Wahlert's guidance, "the Pack" produced canned hams, the first American food product to be exported after WORLD WAR II. Dubuque also became one of the largest producers of kosher meats in the United States.

Wahlert transformed Dubuque Pack from a regional market into a meat distribution company with national and international customers and production thought impossible. At the time of the purchase, Dubuque Pack had at most sixty employees. By 1955, with revenues exceeding $150 million, the company employed 3,200 workers. In 1974, the Pack was the top-volune meatpacking plant in the world. (2)

In 1948 Wahlert established the WAHLERT FOUNDATION that has distributed millions of dollars to hundreds of institutions. Locally these donations went to many educational institutions including LORAS COLLEGE, CLARKE COLLEGE, and WAHLERT CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL, Iowa's largest parochial high school. Wahlert donated the land for much of FLORA PARK, named in memory of his wife. He was named to the DUBUQUE BUSINESS HALL OF FAME in 1986. (3)

See: Robert C. WAHLERT

See: Robert Henry WAHLERT

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Source:

1. "Dubuque Packing Company Plant is Scene of Great Activity," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, November 1, 1931, p. 19

2. Gilligan, Amy. "Rise and Fall of Dubuque Packing Company," Telegraph Herald, November 10, 2008, p. 38

3. Ibid.