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1972 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Patrick L. O'Malley*


"The corporate world has to commit to the adequate education of our young people."

Patrick O'Malley was born to immigrant parents in the Irish slums of south Boston. His mother died when he was six months old, and his father remarried "a grand lady" four years later. Reared with six brothers and sisters in a third-floor walk-up apartment, his family received Christmas baskets of food from charitable organizations. By age nine, he was shining shoes to earn money, and throughout high school, he delivered meat by horse and wagon for a local butcher.

O'Malley started his career as a helper on a Coca-Cola truck in 1932. He worked his way up in management until he became president of a subsidiary. After 20 years, he became executive vice president of the parent company in Atlanta. After 30 years with Coca-Cola, O'Malley became president of Canteen Corporation. Over the next 20 years, he became chairman and CEO of Canteen and saw the volume of sales increase from $187 million to $1.6 billion. Upon his retirement, he was designated chairman emeritus.

After being named by Northwood University as Outstanding Business Leader, O'Malley said, "The greatest contribution business will make to society in the year 2000 and beyond is the freedom of economic choice. The most certain road to individual empowerment is individual economic independence. To guarantee this freedom, we must support the free enterprise system. We must foster an environment in which businesses will prosper, schools will improve, and communities will flourish because of the contributions of a socially responsible business community that understands the challenges we face."

Honored by his Horatio Alger Award, O'Malley says, "The work we are accomplishing with our Scholars is commendable. These men and women have faith in our free enterprise system and believe in and are working toward a better and brighter tomorrow. My advice to them is to never stop learning."

* Deceased