Howard Schultz Family History

Overview

Howard Schultz was born on July 19th, 1953 to Fred and Elaine Schultz in Brooklyn, New York.  His Jewish family was poor and they struggled to get by as he was growing up.  He was fortunate to get a scholarship to go to college.  Later he had a brainstorm about coffee.  This led to him taking over the Seattle company Starbucks and making it the biggest coffee-house chain in the world.

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Jewish Poverty

According to Howard, his great grandparents on both sides of his family were Jews who arrived in New York in the early 1890’s.  His great grandfather Max Schultz came in 1892 with just $10 in his pocket, spoke no English, and made his living as a tailor.

Max’s son Harry died at a relatively young age.  So Harry’s son Fred had to quit high school around 1935 and begin work as a teenager.  Then came the war and Fred was a medic in the South Pacific where he contracted yellow fever and malaria.  He was never that healthy afterwards.

When he returned after the war, he spent his life working in a variety of low-paid jobs as a laborer.  In 1956 he moved with his family into a small apartment in a Canarsie housing project in Brooklyn.  There followed a time when they were really poor.  Howard wrote:

“The most indelible image I have of my dad is of him lying on our couch in a cast, distraught. I was about seven years old. It was winter, and he had a job delivering cloth diapers. He’d fallen on a patch of ice and broken his hip and ankle. He was fired from his job and had no health insurance, no workers compensation, and no savings. The image of my father on the couch, helpless, stuck with me.”

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The Way Out

There was a way out.  Howard excelled at sports in high school and when he graduated in 1971 he received an athletics scholarship at Northern Michigan University.  He became the first member of his family to attend college and to graduate.  Indeed it was only possible because of the scholarship money.  College opened his eyes to the world and provided job opportunities afterwards.

The second way out, and a big one, came in the early 1980’s because he had a vision ahead of his time.  He became obsessed with coffee and how a new type of business could be built around it.  This was happening when he was newly married, his pregnant wife was the sole breadwinner, and his father-in-law thought he was crazy.

Howard persisted.  He had worked for a new coffee company in Seattle called Starbucks and proposed to them his idea of a chain of Italian-type expresso coffee bars.  They wouldn’t buy it.  So in 1986, after securing some seed money, he started out on his own.  Two years later, the Starbucks management team sold its Starbucks retail brand to him.  He was on his way.

He was to be the CEO of Starbucks for twenty-two of the next thirty years.  Under his leadership Starbucks established a large network of stores around the world, influencing coffee culture in the US and globally.  And Starbucks became the biggest coffee-house chain in the world.

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Howard Schultz’s Family Tree
  • Max Schultz, Jewish immigrant to New York in 1892
  • – Harry Schultz (1892-1935)
  • Harry Schultz m. Elsie (1894-1956) in New York
  • – Milton Schultz (b. 1914) m. Esther Kaavitz
  • – Florence Schultz (b. 1917) m. Nathan Farber
  • – Shirley Schultz (b. 1918)
  • – Fred Schultz (1921-1988)
  • Fred Schultz m. Elaine (Bobbie) Lederman in New York
  • – Howard Schultz (b. 1953)
  • – Ronnie Schultz (b. 1955)
  • – Michael Schultz (b. 1961)

 

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