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W. W. Kradwell, secretary and general manager of the Kradwell Drug Company of Racine, is bending his energies to the successful direction of a business that is growing steadily in volume and importance and takes rank with the chief commercial enterprises of this city. He was born in 1875, a native of Boscobel, Wisconsin, although of Austrian and Swiss lineage. His paternal grandfather, Albert Kradwell, was a native of Austria, while his maternal grandfather. Benjamin Weibel was born in Switzerland. After following farming for many years in Austria the former became a resident of Grant County, Wisconsin, following the arrival of two of his sons there, and in that locality he continued to engage in farming until his advanced years caused him to put aside the active work of the fields. He and his wife reared a large family and he passed away at the age of eighty-eight. His son Vandy, to escape service in the Austrian army, ran away from home when but twelve years of age and accompanied his brother Charles to the United States, after which he was reared in Grant County, Wisconsin, where he learned the shoemaker’s trade. He was afterward successfully engaged in that business as a hoot and shoe merchant there for a number of years. Under appointment of President Cleveland he became postmaster of Boscobel, in which position he was serving at the time of his death in 1895, when he was fifty-five years of age. He was a member of the Catholic Church although he joined the Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges. His widow, who survived him for a number of years, held membership in the Lutheran church.
In their family of four children W. W. Kradwell was the fourth child and third son. His youthful days were spent under the parental roof in Boscobel and he supplemental his public school training there received by a course in a business college at Marinette, Wisconsin. He afterward turned his attention to general merchandising and became connected with the firm of Mead & Kradwell at Marinette. He put aside all personal considerations, however, at the time of the Spanish-American war, when he joined Company 1, Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and took part in the invasion of Puerto Rico, serving with the rank of sergeant until the close of hostilities, the period of his enlistment extending until the close or the war in the fall of 1898, when he was honorably discharged.
Mr. Kradwell continued in Marinette until 1902, when he went to Denver, Colorado, where he spent three years in the employ of the post office. In 1905 he arrived in Racine and became connected with the Kradwell Drug Company as general manager. The business proved congenial and called forth his latent powers and talents and he manifested marked ability in that connection. In April, 1910, he was elected secretary, adding the duties of that office to those of general manager, and to the dual position he now gives his undivided time and attention.
On the 20th of October, 1915, Mr. Kradwell was united in marriage to Miss Dorothy Nelson. He gives his political allegiance to the Democratic Party and while he does not seek nor desire political office, he co-operates in organized effort for the city’s benefit as a member of the Commercial Club. His social nature finds expression in his membership in the Deutschel Club and he is also identified with the United Commercial Travelers, with the Spanish-American War Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He has membership with the Loyal Order of Moose, belongs to Lodge No. 252. B. P. O. E., at Racine, and has advanced to high rank in Masonry, being now a Knight Templar and a thirty-second degree Mason of the Consistory, while with the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine he has crossed the sands of the desert as a member of Tripoli Temple. In these interests and associations are found the needed balancing element to concentrated business activity, making his a well rounded character. The advancement which he has made in commercial circles has brought him to a prominent place in the business life of Racine, where as secretary and general manager of the Kradwell Drug Company he is one of the owners of six of Racine’s drug establishments, together with a well appointed drug store in Kenosha.