1961 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Don't quit. You've got to keep busy and active."
William Karnes was born in 1911 in Chicago. His mother died when he was five, and he was raised by two aunts. Because of poor health, he didn't begin school until he was eight. The delay didn't hold him back, however, as he finished at the top of his elementary school class. He completed high school in three years, again at the top of his class. Karnes attended the University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in business administration in 1933. He went on to earn a law degree from Northwestern University. His first job after law school was working as a clerk for Beatrice Foods, earning $110 a month. Within 16 years after joining the company, Karnes was president and chairman. By the time he retired in 1976, he had built Beatrice into the largest, most profitable foods-oriented company in the United States.* Deceased