Alabama Academy of Honor

Alfred Frederick Delchamps

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1978.

Alfred Frederick Delchamps, founder of Delchamps, Inc., was born January 13, 1895, in Mobile, the second child of Alfred W. and Anna Maria (Theurer) Delchamps. He was active in business, civic, educational and religious organizations in various capacities.

He may be rightly described as a self-educated man since his formal education ended with the second grade. He studied in night school at the YMCA, took correspondence courses, and read avidly and widely. In 1955 he was granted an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Huntingdon College of Montgomery, Alabama.

His father died when he was five years old, which made it necessary for him to start work at an early age to help support his family. He picked produce on a farm in exchange for part of the crop which he sold from door to door. While in the second grade he worked as a cash boy at Gayfer's and Hammel's Department Stores for $2.50 a week.

As a youth he worked for the Pinch Gas Company, then as a mail room supervisor for the Mobile News Item until joining the U.S. Army Medical Corps, serving as a sergeant in the 31st division from May, 1917, until August, 1919. After service in France, he was discharged and went to work for the Gulf Shipyards in Chickasaw, Alabama.

Laid off because of the reduction in naval construction, Alfred bought a small grocery store, the New York Cash and Carry, #10, which he worked alone for a few months. When his younger brother, Oliver, lost his job at the shipyard, they purchased a larger grocery store at the corner of Lawrence and Canal in Mobile for $1,000. The money used to purchase the store represented the total resources of the family. The first Delchamps Grocery Store opened in November, 1921. Mr. Delchamps was named Mobilian of the year in 1950 and in 1963 was named "Man of the Year" by the Phi Delta Kappa, an honorary educational fraternity.

He was associated with organizations in educational, civic, business and religious. In the educational field he served as president of Huntingdon College Board of Trustees. By special act of North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida Conferences of the Methodist Church he was made a lifetime member of the Board of Trustees of Huntingdon College, the first such award given. In addition he was president and member of the Board of Education, Mobile County Public Schools; member of the Board, Mobile County Foundation for Higher Education; Board of Trustees, YMCA and University of Alabama Wesley Foundation.

In business organizations he was a member of the National Association of Food Chains and Super Market Institute, and Director Emeritus, First National Bank of Mobile. He was also active in civic associations and was chairman, Junior Achievement Advisory Board; American Red Cross, Mobile Chapter Planning Committee; president of Industrial Development Board of Mobile, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce; Mobile Community Chest; Director, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and Mobile Safety Council; campaign chairman of the Mobile Community Chest, the only person to serve in this capacity twice; member of the Moorer Foundation Board of Trustees; United Fund of Mobile, county board of trustees; Communtiy Chests and Councils of America, National Budget Committee; Mobile Infirmary Association, board of trustees and building commission; Governor's Building Committee for the Alabama School of Medicine; Boy Scouts of America, Mobile Area Council Executive board; secretary of the Industrial Development Board of Mobile; director, United Fund and Councils of America.

He is at present a member of the Bellingrath-Morse Foundation board of trustees and Commission to bring U.S.S. Alabama to Mobile.

In addition to his other activities he was active in religious organizations, having served as chairman of the trustees of the Dauphin Way Methodist Church, president of the Mobile Federation of Churches and a member of the Religious Heritage of America board of trustees and of Chandler School of Theology, Jurdisdictional Advisory Council. The church always played an important part in the Delchamps family. Their mother was determined all should attend church on Sunday. They were Methodist because the closest church to them when the children were small was a Methodist Church.

He was married to the former Lucile Crowill of Mobile, they had three children, Alfred Frederick, Margaret (Mrs. Edward W. Young) and Lucile ( Mrs. Richard T. Nelson). Mr. Delchamps is now deceased.