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1977 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Robert P. Gerholz*

Gerholz Enterprise

"There is no substitute for hard work, enthusiasm, vision, courage, determination, positive thinking, and daring action."

Robert Gerholz was one of 12 children born to poor German farmer immigrants. His mother died when he was nine. At age 14, Gerholz went to work in a box factory at a salary of 25 cents an hour. At age 16, he enrolled at the Ferris Institute, completing its four-year program in two years. He worked his way through school doing yard work, stoking furnaces, milking cows, and shoveling snow. After completing the Ferris Institute, he taught commercial subjects at Allen's Business College in Jackson, Michigan, and then worked as an office secretary at a YMCA. In 1917, he enlisted in the Army as a private and by the time he left, was a lieutenant. After the service, Gerholz began working full time in real estate in Flint, Michigan. When the Depression struck, many real estate ventures closed, but Gerholz persevered. Gerholz Enterprises built nearly $100 million worth of buildings in Flint and its suburbs. Gerholz also served as president of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.

* Deceased