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1968 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Walter D. Behlen*

Chairman
Behlen Manufacturing Company

"Getting a good education will go a long way toward future success."

Walter D. Behlen was the second of nine children born on a subsistence farm outside Columbus, Nebraska. He spoke only German until he was eight years old. He hauled the town's trash to earn money. Because of an illness, he did not receive his high school diploma until he was 23. In his early twenties, he started the Behlen Manufacturing Company in Columbus, Nebraska. Until 1945, the company sustained itself by fabricating egg case lid fasteners, steel caps for shoes, and aircraft parts. Later, the company began producing farm products such as wagon dumpers, corn cribs, and grain dryers. Behlen became board chairman of the corporation he founded. By 1967, sales were more than $19 million. His hobby was nuclear energy. In 1946, Behlen wrote a letter to Washington outlining how a hydrogen bomb could be devised.

* Deceased