August "Gussie" Busch

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August Anheuser Busch, Jr.

Also Known As: "Gussie"
Birthplace: St Louis, MO, United States
Death: September 29, 1989 (90)
St Louis, MO, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of August Anheuser Busch, Sr. and Alice Edna Busch
Husband of Marie Christy Busch and Margaret Mary Busch
Ex-husband of Elizabeth Busch and Trudy Busch
Father of Lilly Hermann; Private; Elizabeth Burke; Private; Private and 7 others
Brother of Adolphus Busch, III; Clara Hazel Orthwein; Marie Jones and Alice "Pummie" Gronewaldt

Occupation: Brewery Executive
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About August "Gussie" Busch

August "Gussie" Anheuser Busch, Jr. (March 28, 1899 – September 29, 1989) was an American brewing magnate who built the Anheuser-Busch Companies into the largest brewery in the world as company chairman from 1946–75, and became a prominent sportsman as owner of the St. Louis Cardinals franchise in Major League Baseball from 1953 until his death.

Early life and career

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Busch was the grandson of brewery founder Adolphus Busch and grandfather of former CEO August Busch IV. He succeeded his older brother Adolphus Busch III as President and CEO. He began using the Clydesdale team as a company logo in the 1930s. Such Clydesdales were presented to his father pulling a Budweiser beer wagon to commemorate the end of Prohibition.

St. Louis Cardinals

As chairman, president or CEO of the Cardinals from the time the club was purchased by the brewery in 1953 until his death, Busch oversaw a team that won six National League championships (1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987) and three World Series (1964, 1967 and 1982). In 1984, the Cardinals' board of directors retired the uniform number 85, his age at the time.

Although the Cardinals were the dominant baseball team in St. Louis, in 1953 their owner, Fred Saigh, was in financial and tax difficulty, and the club did not even own its own ballpark (it was a tenant of the "stepchild" St. Louis Browns in Sportsman's Park). Amid rumors of a move to Milwaukee or Houston, Anheuser-Busch bought the Redbirds, and after the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954, it also purchased the ballpark, renaming it Busch Stadium (but only after a failed attempt to name the ground Budweiser Park). Busch Memorial Stadium opened in 1966; it was replaced in 2006 by the current stadium bearing that name.


Busch died at age 90 in St. Louis on September 29, 1989. Seven years later in 1996, Anheuser-Busch sold the Cardinals to a group of investors led by William DeWitt, Jr.



September 30, 1989

OBITUARY August A. Busch Jr. Dies at 90; Built Largest Brewing Company


August Anheuser Busch Jr., the master showman and irrepressible salesman who turned a small family operation into the world's largest brewing company, died yesterday at his home in suburban St. Louis County, Mo. He was 90 years old and had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

He had been honorary chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Companies since his retirement in 1975. But he had remained active as the president of the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League baseball club he persuaded the company's board to buy in 1953.

Mr. Busch, known as Gussie to virtually everybody who did not know him and as Gus to those who knew him well enough not to call him Mr. Busch, was the grandson and great-grandson of the founders of the company that bore two of his names.

The company, founded in 1876, survived Prohibition by moving into widely diverse products like soft drinks and automobile bodies.

Born in St. Louis on March 28, 1899, Mr. Busch entered the family business as a young man and became general superintendent of brewing operations in 1924. He took over as head of the brewery division after the death of his father in 1934. Although he did not become president of the company until the death of his older brother, Adolphus Busch 3d, in 1946, Mr. Busch had already made his mark as a salesman-showman.

To celebrate the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Mr. Busch recalled the draft horses that had once pulled beer wagons in Germany and pre-automotive America and obtained a team to haul the first case of Budweiser down Pennsylvania Avenue for delivery to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. Since then the famous eight-horse hitch of Clydesdales has become almost as famous as the brand they continue to promote.

What was undoubtedly Mr. Busch's greatest promotional coup was disguised as a civic duty - the company's purchase of the Cardinals for $7.8 million in 1953 after the previous owner was convicted of income tax invasion.

My ambition, Mr. Busch declared, is, whether hell or high water, to get a championship baseball team for St. Louis before I die.

He had a long wait. But beginning in 1964, the team won six National League pennants, most recently in 1987, and the World Series in 1964, 1967 and 1982.

Savored Success

Mr. Busch savored success, and he became a familiar triumphant figure to baseball fans in league playoffs and World Series home games when he would ride into Busch Stadium on the Clydesdale wagon waving a red cowboy hat.

He attributed the team's success and the company's to his policy of noninterference. Even so, he was active in the club's affairs long after he left the company to others, and in 1982 he led the campaign among major league owners not to retain the previous commissioner, Bowie Kuhn.

Through the Clydesdales and the Cardinals, other promotional gimmicks and a commitment to mass advertising, Mr. Busch turned a comparatively small and financially ailing company into the industry giant. In his 29 years as the company's active head, sales of beer went from 3 million to 37 million barrels a year. Last year the company produced 78.5 million barrels, almost double the output of its nearest competitor, and recorded sales of $9.7 billion. Its flagship brand, Budweiser, is the most popular beer in the world.

Medium Stature, Loud Voice

Through direct ownership and various trusts, Mr. Busch owned 12.5 percent of the company, or more than 30 million shares of its common stock. At yesterday's closing price of $43.375 on the New York Stock Exchange, the holdings were worth more than $1.3 billion. The day's increase of $1.125 a share represented a gain of more than $30 million. Trading in the company's stock was suspended for 20 minutes after the announcement of his death.

Mr. Busch, at 5 feet 10 inches tall and 165 pounds, was a man of medium stature, but he had a loud voice that was once likened to the roar of a hoarse lion.

Fortunately for his colleagues, he had a sense of humor about his own shortcomings, which included a hairtrigger temper. All right, you guys, he once shouted at a raucous company meeting. Let me blow my stack first. Then you can blow yours. He also had an outsized zest for life, and both the wealth and the inclination to indulge it.

Among other things, his 281-acre estate, Grant's Farm, includes a cabin built by hand by President Ulysses S. Grant and has a 34-room French Renaissance chateau and a well-stocked private zoo, which reflect his abiding love of animals. Mr. Busch trained his own chimpanzees and elephants before donating them to the St. Louis Zoo.

A onetime rodeo rider who later served as master of the Bridlespur Hunt outside St. Louis, Mr. Busch stocked his air-conditioned stables with several breeds, including hackneys, hunters and jumpers.

He clattered his way into family legend one day when he rode one of his horses up the main staircase of the family residence to cheer up his bedridden father.

Mr. Busch was married four times. Two of the marriages ended in divorce. His last wife, the former Margaret Rohde, died last year.

His survivors include a sister, Mrs. Carl W. Gronewaldt of Cooperstown, N.Y., and 10 children. They are Carlota Busch Giersch of Pasadena, Calif., and Lilly Busch Hermann of St. Louis, both daughters of the late Mrs. Marie Church Busch; August A. Busch 3d of St. Louis and Elizabeth Busch Burke of Middleburg, Va., children of the late Elizabeth Overton Busch; Adolphus A. Busch 4th of St. Louis, Beatrice Busch von Gontard of St. Louis, Peter W. Busch of Vero Beach, Fla., Trudy Busch Valentine of St. Louis, William K. Busch of St. Louis and Andrew D. Busch of St. Louis, all children of Gertrude Buholzer Busch.

Mr. Busch is also survived by 27 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.

The funeral is to be private, and details of a memorial service will be announced later.

The family’s legendary patriarch for more than 40 years, Gussie often has been described as the last of the bear barons.

He was also hailed as a marketing genius who ensured the company’s dominance over the domestic beer market. It was Gussie’s idea to send an eight-horse team of Clydesdale horses down Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s Capitol with the first case of post-Prohibition Budweiser. It was a gift to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A lifelong sportsman obsessed with hunting and riding, he also learned to become a baseball fan after buying the Cardinals. When his death was announced during a Cubs game at Busch Stadium, Cardinals players donned black arm bands and Jack Buck officiated over a minute of silence.

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August "Gussie" Busch's Timeline

March 28, 1899
St Louis, MO, United States
February 22, 1935
St Louis, St Louis, MO, United States