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Albert Pick, Jr.

Albert Pick, Jr. was an American businessman, hotel executive, and philanthropist. As president and later, chairman of the board of Pick Hotels Corporation, he guided the expansion of his company for more than 40 years, creating one of the top hotel chains in the United States.

Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Isidore Pick

Date and place of birth: July 2, 1895, at 4417 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Date, place and cause of death: December 11, 1977, Billings Hospital at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. (Heart attack/series of strokes)

Spouse: Corinne Frada (m. December 27, 1917 - December 11, 1977) (his death)*
Wedding took place at the Standard Club, on Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Siblings: Laurence Pick (younger brother)
Sisters: Pauline Pick (b. 1894 - d. May 1931, of pneumonia/empyema)
Dorothy Pick (known as Dot Pick) (d. 1934, Miami Beach, Florida, of a brain tumor)

Grandchildren: Paul Guggenheim, and Jenny Guggenheim (Gladys Pick and Richard Guggenheim's kids)
Pauline Ross (known as Polly Ross) (daughter of Gladys Pick and William Ross)
Thomas Pick, and Janet Pick (children of Albert Pick III and Faye Fitzgerald Pick)

Son: Albert Pick III (b. 1934)
Daughter: Gladys Pick (b. 1927)

Father: Albert Pick, Sr. (b. May 17, 1869, Chicago, Illinois - d. July 9, 1955, Miami Beach, Florida)
Mother: Gertrude (Frank) Pick (d. 1945)

Error corrections or clarifications

* Some sources erroneously report Albert and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in "1970." In point of fact, it was December 27th, 1967, that Albert and Corinne celebrated that milestone.

Note that Albert, Jr. shares his December 27th wedding date with that of his parents. Albert Pick, Sr. and Gertrude Frank married December 27th, 1892.

Biography - Hobbies/sidelines - Residences of Albert Pick, Jr.

Albert Pick & Company was incorporated in 1857, by Albert Pick I and his brother Charles. Charles was known as Carl Pick, and was the grandfather of Albert Pick, Jr. The business was a prosperous hotel and restaurant supply company, and was located on 5th Avenue (later, Randolph and Wells), in Chicago, Illinois.

Albert, Jr. was fascinated with the business world from an early age. He began sweeping and doing odd jobs at Albert Pick & Company at age 12. Never particularly enamored with his given name, he changed it from "Isidore Pick" to "Albert Pick, Jr." just before he entered high school. By age 15, he'd familiarized himself with the intricacies of the business, and was selling part-time for the firm. Following his World War I service in the army, he rejoined Albert Pick & Company, spending time in the adjustment department, personnel department, and occasionally working as a salesman for the firm. His passion for the family business was such that he often worked twelve-hour days, six days a week.

In the late 1920s, Albert Pick, Sr. began acquiring vast stretches of real estate through his new Randolph Investment Company. They invested in property in Chicago, Bal Harbor, Florida, and land surrounding Miami Beach. They owned several square blocks along the Chicago River between Monroe and Madison Streets, small farms, hotels, and the Reliance Building in Chicago. Albert, Jr. was quickly becoming the money-man in their new real estate/hotel business.

His father struggled through the Great Depression following an involuntary bankruptcy filed against him in 1933. Increasingly, it fell to Albert, Jr. to purchase and manage the various hotels they were adding to their real estate holdings.

In the early 1930s, Randolph Investment Company was renamed Pick Hotels Corporation, and Albert, Jr. was named its president. He guided the company through several decades of conservative but steady expansion. Pick Hotels further expanded their horizons in 1955, by adding motels to their growing family of quality lodging. Pick Hotels owned 15 hotels by 1942, and later reached a peak of 41 hotels and motels in 36 cities.

Albert Pick, Jr. married Corinne Frada, December 27th, 1917, at the Standard Club, in Chicago, Illinois. They had a daughter, Gladys Pick, born in 1927, and a son, Albert Pick III, born in 1934. His daughter Gladys married William Ross in the Gold Room of their flagship hotel, the Pick-Congress, September 29th, 1950. The marriage ended in divorce and she remarried in 1955 to Richard Guggenheim. Albert and Corinne had several grandkids and were both doting grandparents.

He had served as treasurer, director, president, and ultimately, chairman of the board of Pick Hotels Corporation. Mr. Pick even did a little writing for
Topicks, a magazine published for employees of Pick Hotels. Beginning in 1942, Albert regularly contributed a folksy editorial to the magazine, and continued to do so into the 1970s. Toward the end of his career, when asked how many shareholders there were in the corporation, Albert responded by raising a single finger. Over time, he'd personally bought out all remaining shareholder/partners, and thus reigned as the sole owner of the company.

Beginning in the late 1940s, his time was increasingly spent with philanthropic endeavors. La Rabida Children's Hospital (a.k.a. La Rabida Jackson Park Sanitarium) was a personal favorite of his. He gave generously of his time and money to the children's hospital, and was responsible for promoting an alliance between La Rabida Children's Hospital and the University of Chicago. May 25th, 1959, Albert Pick, Jr. was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago. He would remain closely associated with the University for the rest of his life.

People to People International was another organization he supported over the years. In 1967,
President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked Pick to serve as director of People to People International. President Eisenhower founded the organization to promote "international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. People to People International is dedicated to enhancing cross-cultural communication within each community, and across communities and nations." In 1972, Albert was honored with the Eisenhower Medallion for his years of service to People to People International.

His philanthropy led to the organization of The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund, "... to offer a hand when help is needed." The fund continues to assist civic and community-based organizations working to improve the City of Chicago and its individual neighborhoods. Programs that enhance the environment, address the needs of minorities and the physically disabled and/or promote good government and human relations, have all benefited from his fund. His organization also supports the efforts of Chicago's cultural organizations, childhood education, tutoring, at-risk intervention and job training and retraining. Pursuant to his own personal interest in improving childhood healthcare, the fund assists Chicago-based programs offering health, disabled or rehabilitation counseling; and/or crisis and shelter care services to youth, at-risk families and geriatric populations.

Albert and Corinne celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in the Gold Room of the Pick-Congress, December 27th, 1967. To celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, Albert announced that his anniversary gift to his wife would be a concert hall for her alma mater. She was a celebrated pianist in her youth, and as avid arts supporters, it seemed the perfect way to honor his wife and her love of music. Nearly ten years had passed since they established the Corinne Frada Pick Music Scholarship for piano students at Northwestern University, when he learned of the school's need for a concert hall. So, it was only natural that he would join forces with his brother-in-law, Charles Staiger, in offering financial backing for the new concert hall.

July 25th, 1973, Albert and his wife helped break ground for the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, in Evanston, Illinois. Made possible by generous gifts from Albert Pick, Jr. and Charles Staiger, the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall held its dedicatory concert October 26th, 1975. The concert featured a young pianist, Ralph Votapek, and the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra. The choice of Ralph Votapek as soloist held special significance for the Pick's. He was not only a prominent School of Music alumnus and winner of the Van Cliburn Competition, but had also been the very first recipient of the Corinne Frada Pick Music Scholarship at Northwestern University.

In recognition of his family's prominent place in Chicago's early history, a number of streets in suburban Chicago would later be named for various members of the Pick family. Albert's generous gifts, and years working to strengthen educational institutions, led to the establishment of numerous scholarships bearing his or his wife's name. You'll also find the Gertrude Frank Pick Children's Center at La Rabida Children's Hospital and Research Center, in Chicago; the Albert Pick Hall for International Studies, at the University of Chicago; and the Albert Pick Hall for International Studies, at the University of Miami.

In 1960, Pick reorganized the company, spinning off the motels into their own division. Pick Hotels went international in 1964, when they added the Lord Simcoe Hotel in Toronto, and the Windsor Hotel in Montreal, Canada. Another of his companies, Pick Dining Inc., managed various restaurants and cafeteria properties.

As he approached his 70th birthday, he let more and more power in the company pass to others. Summers were spent at his Highland Park home, with winters spent in Florida. He suffered a minor stroke in 1971, and another in 1972 while attending an International Hotel Association meeting in Geneva. In his final years, Albert's health continued to deteriorate and his eyesight failed. Shortly before his death, he underwent cataract surgery that successfully restored vision to one of his eyes. December 10th, 1977, he suffered a heart attack and died the next day.

Corinne Frada Pick continued her faithful support of Northwestern's School of Music until her death in January 1989.

Other positions and honors:
A director with the First National Bank of Highland Park beginning in 1956.
Director of the American Hotel and Motel Association.
President and chairman of the board of La Rabida Children's Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.
Life trustee, University of Chicago.
Member of the Board of Governors of International House.
Founder and president of the Emeritus Club of the Alumni Association at the University of Chicago.
Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Miami, January 25th, 1973.
Recipient of the U.S. Information Agency's Distinguished Service Award for outstanding services in advancing understanding and goodwill between peoples of the United States and other countries.
1972 recipient of the Eisenhower Medallion.
Note: The Eisenhower Medallion is the highest award presented by People to People International. It is presented to an internationally known individual or organization in recognition of their exceptional contribution to world peace and understanding.

A partial list of the hotels and apartment buildings they owned or leased:
Congress Hotel (later, the Pick-Congress), Chicago, Illinois (acquired in 1950)
The Georgian, Evanston, Illinois (acquired in 1946)
Hotel Antlers, Indianapolis, Indiana
The Anderson, Anderson, Indiana (acquired in 1948)
Tower Apartments, Anderson, Indiana
Pick-Durant, Flint, Michigan
Pick-Nicollet, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mark Twain Hotel (later, the Pick-Mark Twain), St. Louis, Missouri
The Melbourne, St. Louis, Missouri (acquired in 1948)
Eldorado Towers, 90th Street and Central Park West, New York City, New York
Pick-Carter, Cleveland, Ohio
Nationwide Inn, Columbus, Ohio
Pick-Fort Hayes Hotel, Columbus, Ohio
Roosevelt Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (acquired in 1947)
Albert Pick Motel, Nashville, Tennessee
The Raleigh Hotel, Waco, Texas
Pleasant Point Resort, Pleasant Point, West Virginia
Caravan Inn, Sacramento, California (acquired in 1965)
Lord Simcoe Hotel, Toronto, Canada (acquired in 1964)
Windsor Hotel, Montreal, Canada (acquired in 1964)

Over the years, Albert Pick & Company/Pick Hotels Corp. had offices located at Randolph and Wells, 532 South Michigan Avenue, and 20 North Wacker Drive, in Chicago, Illinois.

Yachting (often with close friends Senator Robert Taft and also President Eisenhower), golf (he never had a lesson, yet won several golf tournaments), world travel, was a dedicated pro football fan, and in his early years, he excelled at track.

Residences of Albert Pick, Jr:
Note that these residences may no longer exist, and it's possible the
addresses have changed over the years. This is not to suggest that Mr. Pick owned each and every one of these structures. We're only reporting the fact that he resided in them at one point or another in his life.
4417 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
5300 Hyde Park Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
35th and Wabash, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
72nd and Columbus Avenue, New York City, New York, U.S.A. (during World War I)
Cherry Street, Winnetka, Illinois, U.S.A.
106 Vine Avenue, Highland Park, Illinois, U.S.A.


The most in-depth of more than two dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile, was the 1980 biography, The Indestructible Crown: The Life of Albert Pick, Jr., by Judith Barnard.

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