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Louis H. Waltke, president of the firm of William Waltke & Company, soap manufacturers, succeeded his father as the head of the business and has since given his attention to administrative direction and executive control of one of the important productive industries of St. Louis. In this city he was born June 1, 1855, a son of William and Anna (Kohring) Waltke, extended mention of whom appears elsewhere in this work. Louis H. Waltke was educated in the Lutheran parochial schools and at Walther College, from which he was graduated in 1872. Subsequently he attended the Jones Commercial College and later entered the chemical department of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Immediately after the completion of his education Mr. Waltke entered his father’s soap factory and made it his purpose thoroughly to learns the business in every particular. He worked his way upward through the various departments of the plant, learning the soap making industry in all of its minutest details and at the same time acquainting himself with the important principles of the business. He continued as an employe of the company up to the time of the incorporation of the business in 1900 under the name of William Waltke & Company, at which time he became a member of the firm and was made the vice president and a member of the board of directors. After the death of his father in 1916 he succeeded to the presidency of the company. In the intervening four years to the present time under his direction as chief executive the business has had a phenomenal growth, having doubled the volume of trade until the annual sales now reach about six million dollars. They employ three hundred factory hands and seventy commercial salesmen. The thoroughness with which Mr. Waltke acquainted himself with every detail of the business now enables him most carefully and wisely to direct the operation of the plant and the conduct of sales. His plans are well formulated and promptly executed and at all times he keeps in touch with the trend of modern commercial progress and improvement.
In 1880 Mr. Waltke was married to Miss Anna Stoffregen, of St. Louis, a daughter of Henry Stoffregen, now deceased. To Mr. and Mrs. Waltke have been born three sons and two daughters: Louis A., vice president of William Waltke & Company; Richard H., who is serving as assistant secretary of the company; Herbert W., who acts as buyer for the firm; Anna, now the wife of Dr. H. J. Heitner, a chiropractor of St. Louis; and Laura C.
Mr. Waltke is a member of the Million Population Club of St. Louis and served as its president for three terms, doing effective work in connection with plans for the upbuilding and improvement of the city. He also belongs to the Missouri Athletic Club, is a member of the St. Louis Art League, a member of the Midland Valley Country Club and of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, the Merchants Exchange, the City Club, the Zoological Society, the Riverview Country Club, the St. Louis Drug Club and the Missouri Historical Society. The nature, extent and variety of his interests are thus indicated. In politics he is a republican and for years has been a dominant factor in the councils of the party and was offered the nomination for congress from the tenth district at the last convention but refused to allow his name to be used. He had previously been proffered political preferment in various capacities but has no ambition along that line, his business cares preventing him from accepting. He has preferred rather than hold office himself to give his support to his friends who are seeking political honors. He and his family are active members of St. Paul’s Lutheran church and he is president of the Lutheran Charities Association, which conducts the Lutheran Orphans’ Home and the Lutheran Hospital. He is likewise president of the Lutheran Altenheim. He never hesitates to extend a helping hand where he can do some good to his fellowmen and his assistance is of a most generous nature though of unostentatious character.