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2008 August 17: Fred Dearborn

Fred Dearborn, known affectionately as "Mr. Osco" passed away on August 17, 2008. In our August 2005 issue of Connections, we had asked Fred to tell us, in his own words, about his Osco career. In what Fred described as "Ramblings from an old codger," he took us from his first job as an $85 a week pharmacist in Boone, Iowa to what he and his wife Marty were doing in retirement. As you might expect, his article was more about his co-workers than about himself.

Fred's last words in the article he wrote were "We love you all. May God bless you and keep you safe in his ever loving arms."

TRIBUTES TO FRED DEARBORN ---------------------------------------------------------------- Our dear Fred Dearborn; cheerleader, song writer, constant optimist and gentleman! I don't think Fred ever had a bad day. If he did, he never showed it to those who worked around him. He had a unique management style. He was so nice and likeable; you just had to help him out! You could not say "no" to Fred! Folks worked hard for Fred because they really liked him and knew he appreciated and respected their efforts. He taught by his example that being positive and of good cheer while making work fun was a way to lift spirits and help get the job done. He was loved and will be missed by all. Ron Grove August 2008


We just learned of Fred's passing. Our hearts go out to you and prayers are with you. What a wonderful, wonderful man, and what a tremendous role model you two were for us and so many others of the next generation of Osco young married folks. Thank you for being all you were to Fred, without whom he would not have been the richest of blessings, he was.

Love, John & Gloria Kromer August 2008


One vivid memory was Fred leading the singing on a bus ride to downtown Chicago from Elgin, Illinois with the first ever group of 25 year anniversary celebrants. Both he and Marty brightened the day of all with whom they came in contact.

Osco lost a giant with the passing of Fred. Never have I met a man as positive and upbeat as Fred. He liked everyone and his genuine greeting and caring questions about you made everyone feel special. Fred was a wonderful person and he will be missed by all who have ever met him.

Dick George August 2008


“Mr. Dearborn” was so special to me and my career at Osco. He was such a supporter. I never received a promotion or recognition that I didn’t immediately receive congratulations from him and Marty. He was that rare individual that made it his mission to make everyone “have a good day.” His smile, his energy, his cheerleading spirit was infectious and he made us all better people, just by being himself. I will miss him at the “Osco” gatherings – he brought so much life and love to the party.

Wanda White August 2008


If anyone deserved to be called ‘Mr. Osco’, it was Fred Dearborn. From the first time I talked to Fred when he came to South Dakota to recruit Pharmacists until the last time I saw him in Phoenix he was always talking about the company, its history, culture and people. It was a passion for Fred and it lasted a lifetime. Now he's gone and so is Osco for the most part. For those of us who had the good fortune to be there during the early years we will always have fond memories of this wonderful executive who believed strongly in the potential of people and cared deeply about making sure they were treated fairly and given opportunity to succeed. Thank you Mr. Dearborn. Dave Gillis August 2008


I have many fond memories of Fred Dearborn dating back 50 years to 1958. I first met Fred at the Osco Drug Store in St. Cloud, Minnesota where we were relocating the store to a new location. At the time I was a pharmacy student at NDSU, I was also working at the Osco store in Fargo, North Dakota. Fred was one of the reasons that I joined the Osco team. He spent time with me, encouraged me and told me that Osco was a great company, and that I should become a part of the organization when I graduated from pharmacy school. Need to way I took Fred's advice and for that I am eternally grateful. Fred will be remembered as a family man first and foremost. A caring husband and a loving father. Always the life of the party, Fred loved people. He always took time to recognize others with a kind word. No one passed Fred by without a friendly greeting. These are a few of the countless reason that Fred was known to all as "Mr. Osco". Gone but never forgotten. We will miss you Fred.

Tork Fuglestad August 2008


Fred Dearborn was everything to Osco Drug, Inc. and its people. He was a Company pioneer, visionary, enthusiast, teacher, mentor, and cheerleader. His effervescent presence provided encouragement for Osco people in both promising and challenging times. He provided a warm smile and responded willingly even when facing occasional career disappointments. Nobody put his or her heart and soul into the Osco business and for Osco people in the same measure as was the case with Fred Dearborn. His steadfast zest for the Company and its people earned him the well deserved title of “MR. OSCO”. Carol and I will be missing a dear friend and all Osco people will be missing a marvelous human being.

Bill and Carol Jacobs August 2008


I first heard about Osco Drug when it had 31 stores in six states, and Fred Dearborn was a big reason I signed on with the company. Fred had this big smile and wonderful way that you immediately liked, trusted and respected. He was blessed with good judgment and common sense. And he put his trust and faith in the capacity of strong people who made Osco’s concept of independent operations work. For Fred, people came first.

As Osco grew and the retail world changed, Osco changed with it. Though Fred had his feet firmly planted in Osco’s history and traditional ways, he endorsed new ideas that continued the company’s position as an innovative and successful enterprise, and he was one of the first to sign on and provide leadership to make the Jewel-Osco marriage work. Fred was a leader, but he had the humility to embrace change and be a good soldier when the chips were down. Nobody who was there will ever forget the 25-year anniversary events with Fred rolling out the red carpet at the 1818 Oak Brook, Illinois office and shepherding us through weekends of celebration and fun in the Big City. A whole generation of us felt Fred’s hand on our careers as we were given chances to grow in the business. And none of us ever heard Fred say “I can’t” or “I won’t” or “that job is beneath my pay grade” – he took on every challenge that came his way with his cheerful spirit, optimistic outlook, and can do attitude.

When I left the business shortly after it was acquired by American Stores, Fred had just retired. For two decades more, he and Marty kept the Osco fires burning and traveled across the country to be at Osco reunions, ski trips, golf outings and anywhere Osco people gathered to celebrate friendship. Fred was the heart and soul of Osco, and for me he will always be.

Dick Cline August, 2008

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