Victor Maurath was born on 29 November 1895 at 9th and Hickory, the location of “Maurath Fancy Groceries.” Victor was the son of Franz Xavier “Frank” Maurath and Anna Maria “Mary” or “Annie” Dirk, who migrated to St. Louis from Ohio. Frank died young and Mary later remarried Bernard Held from Hannover, Germany, who helped Mary raise the Maurath children:

    • Antoinette “Nettie” (1887–1977), married Bernard Dierkes.
    • Annie (1888–1956), married August J. Beckmann.
    • Frank, Jr. (1889–1926), a banker, never married.
    • Roland E. (1893–1972), married Lillian Meinen. No children.
    • Victor H. (1895–1952), married 1) Edith Tranel (1898–1919), and 2) Gertrude Openlander (1898–1978).

Victor’s grandfather, Wilhelm Maurath, from Unzhurst, Germany, was first cousin to Felix Maurath, who had also migrated to St. Louis from Ohio in the 1830s.

Victor and his brother Roland spent most of their lives in the food and wholesale grocery business. Roland worked for Carnation Milk, Wetterau Foods, and Missouri-Illinois Food Distributors. Victor slowly ventured away from the family grocery business and had a more extensive career, starting off as district manager for Carnation Milk, then as vice president and director of sales for Krekeler Grocery. He served as vice president and general manager for 327 Tom Boy stores, was a member of the St. Louis Grocery Trade Council, and was vice president of the Missouri Retail Grocers & Merchants Association.

In 1934, 1,200 grocers elected Victor as chairman of the Food & Grocery Distributors Code under the National Recovery Administration for the eastern half of Missouri. At this time he put the family grocery business up for sale. In 1936, he ran Nationwide Service Grocers and became an executive with the Missouri-Illinois Food Distributors; he held this position until his death in 1952.

Victor Maurath Sr.
Victor Maurath Sr.
Photo courtesy of Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center, Chamber of Commerce Collection, Edwyn Strauss, photographer, c. 1940s

During WWII, Victor was appointed by Lawrence Openlander, U.S. Department of Agriculture, as co-chairman of the Wartime Food Management Committee, as director of the Food Panel of St. Louis’s War Price and Rationing Board, and as the director of the St. Louis Coffee and Sugar Rationing Board. In 1947, Victor was appointed by Mayor Kaufmann as chairman of the St. Louis Citizens’ Food Committee, part of the government’s national food conservation program.

After his first wife’s death, he was temporarily unable to care for his infant son, Victor, Jr, so he placed his son in the care of his in-laws, where he was raised for a time by his aunt, Elsa Tranel. When brought back to live with his father and through a misunderstanding, the boy ran away from home at age fourteen. Victor Sr. spent thousands of dollars looking for Victor Jr. and placed ads in national newspapers expressing his fatherly love and offering the boy a lucrative position in the grocery industry. But sadly, he never heard from his son again. Victor Sr. remarried to Gertrude Openlander and they had a daughter, Rose Marie, who married Nick Fehrenbach.

It turns out that Victor Jr. hitchhiked and hopped trains to California, where he assumed the name of Tony Massie and later served in a tank command during WWII. He is buried in Hayward, California.

Written by John Maurath

April 2021
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Last Modified: 11-Feb-2022 12:56