Benefactor who, inspired by minister Frank Wakely Gunsaulus’ vision of building a school to provide accessible higher education to all, gave $1 million to found Armour Institute. P.D. Armour, Sr., initiated a family legacy of financial and personal contribution to the university, starting with his wife, Malvina Belle Ogden Armour (1842–1927), and their son J. (Jonathon) Ogden Armour (1863–1927).
Business tycoon, captain of industry, philanthropist, the richest man in Chicago—all of these terms identify Philip Danforth Armour, Sr. The small meat-packing company he and his brothers purchased, Armour & Co., became the country’s largest meatpacker with world-wide subsidiaries. Along the way, he invested in, purchased, or built and operated railroads, grain farms, banks, and by-product businesses, which supported all aspects of the meat-packing industry. P.D. Armour built an empire and a model of business practice for others to emulate. He also set a standard for philanthropy, a demonstration of how one man’s personal wealth could be redistributed to workers, residents, and citizens who purchased his products and made him rich.
Stories abound of the personal generosity of the Armour family to the poor, of their commitment to cultural and arts organizations throughout the city, and of P.D. Armour, Sr.’s, intense loyalty to Armour employees. His specific beneficence to the city of Chicago came in the founding of Armour Institute, which he established with the intention of making quality education available to young people willing to apply themselves to study. His initial gift of $1 million in 1890 multiplied several times over as he, his spouse, Malvina Belle Ogden, and their son J. Ogden each contributed to the growth and support of the college from their own personal wealth for the next 30 years. Continuing a line of monetary support and service, a number of Armour family members have served as trustees of Armour Institute of Technology and later, Illinois Institute of Technology.