SIDNEY BARTHWELL, BLACK ENTREPRENEUR, BELOVED FATHER, AND ROLE MODEL; Congressional Record Vol. 151, No. 90
(Extensions of Remarks - June 30, 2005)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1409-E1410]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  SIDNEY BARTHWELL, BLACK ENTREPRENEUR, BELOVED FATHER, AND ROLE MODEL

                                 ______
                                 

                         HON. JOHN CONYERS, JR.

                              of michigan

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, June 29, 2005

  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to honor a great man and 
fellow Detroiter, Mr. Sidney Barthwell. As a child and young adult in 
Detroit, I grew up aware of the legacy of Mr. Barthwell. Later, I was 
blessed to both meet and come to know him personally. He was one of the 
first African American entrepreneurial beacons of Detroit to exemplify 
the ``American Dream.'' Many watched him succeed in business and sought 
to replicate his success. I was and remain extremely impressed with 
both his humanity and his brilliance. He never bought in to the notion 
that to have economic success made him better than those who may have 
been struggling financially. He treated everyone, regardless of title 
of or income, in the same manner, with kindness and warmth. Not only 
was he an astute businessman, but he was also a role model, a mentor, a 
benefactor and I am proud to say a friend. I would like to insert into 
the Record the article below which appeared on June 25, 2005 in the 
Detroit Free Press:

          Sidney Barthwell: His Life's Success Inspired Others

                        (By Alexander B. Cruden)

       In many ways, Sidney Barthwell's life was the story of 
     20th-Century Detroit.
       Born elsewhere, with few resources, he arrived as a teen in 
     the city, studied hard, overcame tough situations, made much 
     from nothing and provided opportunities for his family and 
     hundreds of others.
       In many ways, his life was also the story of the creation 
     of black success in Detroit.
       Mr. Barthwell, who founded and ran, under his own name, 
     what was once the largest black-owned drugstore chain in the 
     country, died of heart failure on Thursday at Harper Hospital 
     in Detroit. A steady, friendly, slyly humorous and discerning 
     man, he was 99.
       When he came to Detroit with his family from Cordele, Ga., 
     in 1922, he was 16. He graduated from Cass Technical High 
     School and earned a bachelor's degree in pharmacy in 1929 
     from what is now Wayne State University.
       But with the prevalence of discrimination, the only 
     pharmacy that would hire him was unlicensed, and it failed 
     early on in the Depression.
       Mr. Barthwell took over the store and built his business 
     from there. He was a good observer of what people wanted and 
     worked tirelessly to fulfill opportunities.
       At the peak, he had 13 stores around the city, providing 
     substantial employment, especially for younger people.
       ``I think my operation became the bridge for many blacks to 
     achieve their goals,'' Mr. Barthwell said at a 1996 dinner 
     attended by hundreds to launch a WSU pharmacy scholarship in 
     his name. The scholarship built on a loan fund established in 
     his honor in 1975.
       His own children were high achievers as well. Daughter 
     Akosua Barthwell Evans is a Yale Law School graduate and a 
     lawyer and banker for J.P. Morgan in New York. Son Sidney 
     Barthwell Jr. graduated from Harvard Law School and is a 36th 
     District Court magistrate in Detroit.
       Mr. Barthwell made it a point to see that other black 
     pharmacists found job opportunities. He recalled that at 
     least 30 pharmacists got their start by working with him.

[[Page E1410]]

       ``He was very wise, very understanding, very optimistic . . 
     . just an amazing person,'' his daughter said Friday. He had 
     a quick grasp of difficult concepts ``but was always down to 
     earth . . . He always respected people . . . regardless of 
     their station in life.''
       In his business achievements, Mr. Barthwell was both a 
     trendsetter and typical member in Detroit's growth from the 
     1930s on. As well, he was a model for what is now a 
     broadly established black middle class, serving for a time 
     as president of the Booker T. Washington Business 
     Association in Detroit.
       He was a delegate to the Michigan Constitutional Convention 
     in 1962, elected without party affiliation and serving on the 
     judiciary and education committees. He was a life member of 
     Detroit Branch, NAACP, and a charter member of the Alpha Beta 
     chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi at WSU.
       In 1998, Mr. Barthwell was named by the Detroit Urban 
     League as a Distinguished Warrior.
       A meaningful moment was being invited to give a black 
     history lecture at his grandson's exclusive prep school, the 
     Lovett School in Atlanta. There, he spoke to an audience of 
     wealthy white people. In the back of his mind were the racial 
     humiliations of his Georgia childhood. He said later the 
     Atlanta experience was a very rewarding interaction.
       He loved his family deeply, his daughter and son said, 
     though always mindful of the value of work.
       His wedding day was a prime example. He and his wife, 
     Gladys, were married about 11 p.m. Christmas Day in 1936, 
     after a full day at the store.
       As his son recalled, laughingly, if you woke up ill, Mr. 
     Barthwell would say: ``Get up and go to work. You'll feel 
     better as the day goes on.''
       The younger Barthwell said his father was a man of ``high 
     integrity, high character. To say he was unpretentious is an 
     understatement. . . . He was very egalitarian; a great 
     father.''
       His grandson, Walter Evans, said ``he was always very 
     loving, very interested in what I was doing,'' and as well 
     kept up with what was going on in the world, right to the 
     end.
       Perpetually a committed Detroiter, Mr. Barthwell 
     nonetheless saw national chain stores and shopping malls edge 
     out smaller city businesses. The construction of 1-75 knocked 
     out the core of a busy commercial area of Detroit. He began 
     closing his stores, selling the last one in 1987.
       He lived in Detroit's Boston-Edison neighborhood. An avid 
     bridge player, he was an active member of the Plymouth United 
     Church of Christ in Detroit.
       The funeral will be at his church, 600 E. Warren, at 11 
     a.m. Thursday. A family hour is scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday 
     at the Thompson Funeral Home, 15443 Greenfield, Detroit.
       Memorials are requested to the Sidney Barthwell Scholarship 
     Fund at the WSU College of Pharmacy and Health Services, 259 
     Mack Ave., Detroit 48201.

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