Joseph Albert “Joe”Albertson was born in 1906 in Yukon, Oklahoma Territory, but moved to Caldwell before he was three. He graduated from Caldwell High School and studied business for two years at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. One day, during a college chemistry class, a pretty girl burned her hand, and Joe came to her aid. That pretty girl was Kathryn McCurry, a Boise native and graduate of Boise High School. The two fell in love and married on New Year’s Day 1930. Their partnership was marked by great love, unwavering support, and respect for hard work.
Joe began his career as a clerk at Safeway. He quickly moved through the ranks until he was supervising more than a dozen stores, but he dreamed of having his own store. So, with savings of $5,000 and a loan of $7,500, Joe formed a partnership to create Albertsons. It grew to be one of the largest supermarket chains in America and was one of the pioneers of the one-stop, self-service supermarket concept. The first store opened in 1939 at 16th and State, with perks such as free parking, a money-back guarantee, and an ice cream shop. The original store was added onto several times. However, it was demolished in 1979 and replaced by a new store built on the same property. A monument stands on this corner in downtown Boise, commemorating the original store.
Joe opened his second and third Albertsons stores in Nampa and Caldwell in 1940. During the food rationing years of World War II, he filled his shelves with health and beauty products, household goods, and other non-food items. His stores also promoted war bonds and sponsored scrap drives for recycling. In 1964, Joe opened his 100th store in Seattle, Washington. Albertson's continued to expand, eventually growing to be a chain of over 600 stores.
Kathryn and Joe believed strongly that “once you make it, you need to give back.” They created the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation which focused primarily on education and has given more than $240 million to Idaho's communities and education systems. The College of Idaho received many donations as well and was named Albertson College of Idaho for 16 years.
In 1989, a 41-acre park along the Boise River was gifted to the city of Boise from Joe --Kathryn Albertson Park at 1001 N Americana Blvd. The park is a haven for wildlife and features footpaths, outdoor gazebos, waterways, and a beautiful natural setting. Vegetation in the park offers food for wildlife as well as nesting cover and protection.
Joe died on January 20, 1993, and Kathryn remained on Board of Directors for several more years. She passed away April 30, 2002, at the age of 93 and was buried next to her husband at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise. They and their family have contributed much to making the Treasure Valley what it is today!