The L.J. Skaggs and Mary D. Skaggs Foundation

~ L.J. Skaggs, born in 1899, was one of twelve brothers and sisters, the children of a Baptist Minister from Missouri. As a child his family moved to American Falls, Idaho, and L.J. started his lifelong affection for the Pacific Northwest.  With the eldest brother, O.P. Skaggs leading the way, all six brothers became enormously successful merchants. One brother, M.B., made an innovative contribution to marketing; the supermarket—one stop grocery shopping.  The brothers developed and refined their merchandising techniques in the early years of the twentieth century through a number of chains, most especially Skaggs United Grocers.

 ~ While working for O.P. Skaggs (who subsequently developed Osco Drugs), L.J. met Mary Dee who was store manager of the Ogden, Utah store. Mary was born in Rotterdam, Holland on January 23, 1900, the eldest of six children.  Her father was a printer who converted to the Mormon Church and immigrated to the United States in 1906, eventually settling in Ogden, Utah. Mary was raised in a family of avid readers with a keen sense of history and tradition, deep religious faith, the concept of service to the community and a love for the performing arts.

 ~ L.J. and Mary married in 1919 and so began a partnership that was to last more than 50 years.  For the first years of their married life, L.J. and Mary worked together in the organization and operation of L.J.'s chain of Pay and Take It Stores. In 1927 L.J.'s brother, M.B. Skaggs, consolidated the various Skaggs entities into Safeway Stores, a worldwide supermarket chain. L.J. and Mary moved to Nebraska and then to Oregon where L.J. managed regions of the Safeway operations. Mary was always at his side helping at store openings and meeting with suppliers and customers and assisting in advertising and promotional campaigns.

~In 1932, L.J. decided to translate his supermarket experience to drug store operations and opened the first Pay Less Drug Store in Tacoma, Washington.  Success of the merchandising concept proved itself immediately and soon a chain of Pay Less Drug Stores blanketed the Western United States.  As the company continued to grow and expand, when L.J. felt he was unable to give the far-flung stores his full attention, he would sell stores to his brothers and associates. By 1965, he retained only the California Pay Less Stores which, through subsequent sales and acquisitions, is now part of Rite-Aid.

~L.J. and Mary Skaggs had one daughter, Virginia, who died in 1964. In 1967, the couple established The L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation as a California charitable corporation to manage their philanthropy. The Foundation's grants have supported a wide range of charitable endeavors and interests in the past 30 years, but a primary purpose of the Foundation has always been to support programs and projects to preserve and increase appreciation for America's historical and cultural heritage through grants in the United States and abroad, especially England.

~L.J. Skaggs died in December, 1970, and Mary Skaggs succeeded as President of the Foundation and has served continuously for 30 years.

~The Foundation's total grants since inception are in excess of $32,000,000.00 to a wide variety of charitable and philanthropic endeavors in the United States and internationally.  Mrs. Skaggs and the Foundation have received many honors and awards over the years in recognition of their philanthropic activities.  Most recently, in the Birthday Honours List of June 1999, Queen Elizabeth II created Mrs. Skaggs an Honorary Commander Of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of Mrs. Skaggs' philanthropic activities in the United Kingdom.

Offices of the Foundation
1221 Broadway, 21st Floor
Oakland, California 94612-1837

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