December 19, 1999 at 17:29:08 PT
By John Carpenter Staff Reporter
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
It was Nov. 26, 1996, and Loren Walgreen had just won a shocking legal victory, stopping her in-laws from adopting her two children. She went out that night and got high on cocaine. It’s yet another sad detail in the even sadder story of the troubled ex-drugstore heiress, who was found dead at age 31 in a West Side drug house Tuesday.
The man who shared the story is Dennis Clinton, a former truck driver and Walgreen’s longtime boyfriend.
The world knows the Loren Walgreen who lost custody of her two children to their grandparents because of her drug problems. People who follow the news know that she had been arrested many times since she lost contact with the children.
What the world doesn’t know, Clinton insists, is that Walgreen was a good mother to a third child–a bright, happy 4-year-old named David, Clinton’s son with her.
“She had a drug problem, a serious drug problem,” he said. “But it wasn’t all the time.”
“We have a son. He’s 4 1/2 years old, and he can work a computer,” he said. “He’s smart. He’s happy. So did she destroy his life? Did someone need to take him away from her to save him? No.”
Charles and Kathleen Walgreen, who are now raising the two children Loren had with Tad Walgreen–who died of a drug overdose in 1996–believe they did have to step in to save the children. And, according to an interview Kathleen gave to the Sun-Times last week, they tried to help the children’s mother.
Clinton does not agree. And his bitterness toward the billionaire couple is unbridled. He said his girlfriend’s drug problems became much more severe after she lost custody of the children. Mostly, though, he wants people to know that the story is not so simple.
Walgreen had been off illegal drugs for more than a year at the time of the highly publicized adoption trial, Clinton said.
During the trial, doctors testified about Walgreen’s mental illness and drug problems. She had suffered from depression and been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since age 14. One doctor testified that he was surprised she could get up each day, Clinton recalled.
“She was getting up every morning, feeding our son and getting him dressed, driving him to a baby-sitter, getting on the L downtown to sit at the trial for eight hours, taking the train back, picking him up and coming home and cooking dinner,” Clinton said.
Then came the verdict, which declared that the adoption of Walgreen’s two children with Tad by their grandparents would have violated Loren’s constitutional rights.
She had won, but the victory didn’t win her custody. “Even after she won, she still couldn’t get custody,” Clinton said. “She went out that night with a girlfriend and came home and told me she had used cocaine.
“Things got worse from that time on.”
Walgreen’s brushes with the law since losing custody of her two children are well-documented–more than a dozen arrests, mostly for drug possession but also including prostitution. After many probation violations she was jailed for several months and was released in September.
Clinton said her drug problem was serious but not an everyday problem. “She’d be fine for a week or two, maybe a month, then she’d go off for two or three days and get totally wasted. She’d disappear,” he said.
“When it got to where she was thinking about the kids [the two she lost custody of] then she would go off. When she went off like that, she would go off to the maximum.”
Clinton said Walgreen eventually came around to the idea that her two children with Tad were better off with their grandparents. But he said she wanted to be part of their lives, at least through visits.
Kathleen Walgreen said she would have granted Loren visitation rights if she could have stayed clean and sober for a year. She could not.
Neighbors of Clinton’s in unincorporated Melrose Park said police were often called there, mostly for arguments. Clinton acknowledged this and said any fights they had were over her drugs.
“Her drug use was our biggest problem,” he said. “It was our only problem.”
Clinton maintains that Walgreen’s drug use was a form of drawn-out suicide over the loss of her first two children. He argued the same was true of Tad, whose death was ruled an accidental drug overdose.
“Neither one of them died of drug overdoses,” Clinton said. “They died of broken hearts and suicide.”
Clinton and Walgreen talked over breakfast Monday morning.
She had been off drugs since September.
“Prison scared her,” he said. “She was determined never to go back to prison again.”
But she was despondent at the prospects of not being able to see the two children over the holiday season, he said.
“She said she couldn’t stand to go through another holiday season without being able to see or even talk to those children,” he said. “I told her she had to stay strong, stay off the stuff.”
About 3:30 p.m. Clinton got a call from Walgreen at the tavern he owns. Police say she already had been at the West Side drug house for several hours. But she told him she was still shopping in Evanston and asked him to pick up their son from school.
“She sounded as straight as an arrow, but I knew there might be a problem,” Clinton said.
That was the last time she talked to him.
Police said she spent several hours in a basement apartment at 43 N. Menard, a house where she and others had been arrested for drugs before.
During the evening, she slumped over in her chair; others thought she had passed out. By 1:45 a.m. Tuesday, they could not wake her and an ambulance was called. She was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
“She never hurt anybody but herself,” Clinton said.
“Granted, she was her own worst enemy.”
Published: Decenber 19, 1999
Copyright © The Sun-Times Company
Penthouse to basement
Chicago Sun-Times, Dec 15, 1999 by JOHN CARPENTER
Three years after she strode defiantly into a Cook County courtroom to fight – clean and sober – for custody of her two children, Loren Walgreen slumped over a table in a seamy West Side drug house and died.
A life headed for the fast lane with her 1988 marriage to an heir of the $18 billion drugstore fortune had long since plunged into society’s dim-lit alleys when Walgreen, 31, apparently got high for the last time Monday afternoon. She was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning.
Found in a known drug house where she had been arrested on drug charges before, police say they believe her death was drug related, though they are awaiting toxicology tests from the Cook County medical examiner.
If those tests show Walgreen overdosed on drugs, it would be an unsurprising end to a life spent in and out of jails, prison, drug rehab centers and the public eye.
“Drugs and depression is a very nasty combination,” said Alan Toback, her former lawyer.
“I loved my daughter,” said Walgreen’s mother, Patricia Goldbortin. “I didn’t always agree with what she did, but I loved her . . . My heart is broken.”
Loren Goldbortin grew up in Lincolnwood where her mother said she loved sports and was “a normal girl.” She was 10 and riding inside her father’s car when he died of a heart attack behind the wheel, Goldbortin said.
Walgreen was hospitalized for psychiatric problems for the first time at age 14, according to Toback. Goldbortin said her daughter went on to graduate from Niles West High School and studied briefly at Kendall College in Evanston.
She wanted to be a social worker,” Goldbortin said.
Loren Goldbortin was 20 years old and already in drug rehab in 1988, when she met a fellow patient named Tad Walgreen. He was the wayward son of a drugstore mogul and they began dating. They were married Nov. 5 that year, after she became pregnant, according to John Pasulka, Tad Walgreen’s former attorney.
Though they had two children, neither could lick their drug problems. And by 1993 Tad was in prison and Loren once again was in rehab.
At first Loren’s mother cared for the children, with financial help from Charles and Kathleen Walgreen, the children’s grandparents. When the wealthy Lake Forest couple became concerned about the care the children were receiving, they gained custody of them after a nanny testified the situation was unhealthy.
By May 1996, Loren was proclaiming herself clean and sober for more than a year, and a highly publicized court fight over the children was under way.
In the middle of the trial, Tad Walgreen – who had divorced Loren and already agreed to give up custody of the children – died of a drug overdose.
Loren, however, won the first round of her legal fight with her former in-laws, after a Cook County judge ruled the adoption would have violated her constitutional rights. The grandparents retained custody during the legal appeals, however, and Walgreen appeared to slip back into her drug-using ways.
She was arrested in May 1997 after she left her 2-year-old son – not one of her children with Tad Walgreen – unattended while she tried to buy heroin from an undercover Chicago Police officer. She was sentenced to 18 months probation, 180 days of home confinement and ordered to seek counseling.
Walgreen was arrested 13 times between 1993 and her death, including arrests for possession of cocaine and heroin, and a case in which she offered sex to two undercover police officers in return for $40.
By March of this year, after several probation violations, she was sentenced to one year in prison. She was released in September.
For most of this time Walgreen lived in unincorporated Melrose Park with a boyfriend, with whom she had a child. Ray Blaha, who lives across the street, said there often were domestic disputes.
Toback said Walgreen’s boyfriend, a former truck driver, was “straight as an arrow.”
Walgreen settled her legal dispute with her former in-laws in May of last year, accepting a settlement of about $750,000 to give up her parental rights.
Almost immediately after she relinquished control, however, she filed suit to regain custody, Toback said.
The cash windfall didn’t keep Walgreen out of trouble.
Police say Walgreen showed up at the basement apartment at 43 N. Menard at about 2 p.m. Monday, a house where she’d been arrested on drug charges before, on a street lined with boarded buildings.
Residents of the house who called police when they couldn’t awaken Walgreen said the last time they saw her awake was at 8 p.m., playing cards. They thought she fell asleep and didn’t call police until 1:45 a.m.
After an ambulance and police arrived, police Cmdr. Gerard Mahnke said Walgreen had “been dead for quite some time.”
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Troubled Walgreen in-law dies
Chicago Sun-Times, Dec 14, 1999 by FRANK MAIN
Loren Walgreen, the former daughter-in-law of the retired Walgreens drugstore chairman, was found dead early today in a West Side apartment of an apparent drug overdose, police said.
Ms. Walgreen, 31, of unincorporated Melrose Park, was discovered at 1:45 a.m. sitting in a chair at the dining room table of the apartment at 43 N. Menard in the Austin neighborhood, Area 5 police Cmdr. Gerard Mahnke said. “She had been dead for some time,” Mahnke said, adding that foul play was not suspected.
A resident of the apartment had called police about Ms. Walgreen. “She goes there to do drugs,” said Mahnke, who described her death as drug related.
The death of Ms. Walgreen – the former daughter-in-law of retired Walgreen chief executive Charles Walgreen III and his wife, Kathleen – was the final chapter of a tragic life, said her former attorney, Alan J. Toback.
“Her drug problem and her depression got the best of her,” Toback said.
In 1998, Ms. Walgreen relinquished custody of her two children from her marriage with Tad Walgreen, who had died of a drug overdose in 1996. Charles and Kathleen Walgreen adopted the children.
Loren Walgreen recently was living in Melrose Park with her boyfriend and their son, officials say.
In May 1997, she left that boy, then 2, unattended to buy heroin from an undercover Chicago police officer. She was convicted of child endangerment and drug charges and placed on 18 months’ probation.
After a string of other drug arrests, she served six months behind bars this year for possession of a controlled substance and was paroled Sept. 30, a prison spokesman said.
“She did not have any problem with being in the penitentiary,” said Toback, who talked to her after she was freed. “When someone is institutionalized a good portion of their life, sometimes they find comfort in the routine (of prison) . . . It’s just the tragic end to a tragic story.”
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In re Adoption of Walgreen (Ill. S.Ct.)
Docket Nos. 82545, 82546, 82665 cons.-Agenda 10-November 1998.
In re ADOPTION OF TAD ALEXANDER WALGREEN II et al.
(Charles Walgreen III et al., Appellants, v. Loren Walgreen, Appellee).
Opinion filed March 18, 1999.
JUSTICE HARRISON delivered the opinion of the court:
Charles Walgreen III and his wife, Kathleen, filed a petition in the circuit court of Cook County to adopt two of their grandchildren, Tad Alexander Walgreen II and Brooke Julia Walgreen. The Walgreens’ petition, as amended, was premised on the claim that Loren, the children’s biological mother, was unfit within the meaning of sections 1(D)(k) and 1(D)(p) of the Adoption Act (750 ILCS 50/1(D)(k), (D)(p) (West 1992)).
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) sought leave to intervene and was allowed to do so. Following extensive proceedings, the circuit court entered judgment denying the Walgreens’ petition. As grounds for its decision, the court held that sections 1(D)(k) and 1(D)(p) of the Adoption Act were unconstitutional. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(a)(1) (134 Ill. 2d R. 302(a)(1)), the Walgreens and DCFS appealed directly to this court. We allowed the Cook County Public Guardian to appear as amicus curiae in support of the Walgreens. We also allowed the Mental Health Project of the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic to appear as amicus curiae in support of Loren.
After the appeal was filed, the Walgreens advised this court that Loren had consented to the adoption of Tad and Brooke and that new adoption proceedings had been initiated in the circuit court. Those proceedings are now concluded. A final judgment of adoption was entered on April 30, 1998. The Walgreens have become Tad and Brooke’s parents.
Because the Walgreens have succeeded in adopting the children, the issue of whether the circuit court acted correctly in denying the adoption petition at issue here is no longer of any consequence. Even if the circuit court was wrong, a decision by our court could not grant the Walgreens any relief that they have not already received. The case has therefore become moot. See, e.g., Dixon v. Chicago & North Western Transportation Co., 151 Ill. 2d 108, 116-17 (1992).
Both the Walgreens and Loren have consented to dismissal of the case based on mootness. The only party to oppose dismissal is the intervenor, DCFS, which argues that we should address the legal issues in the case in order to provide guidance in future cases. This we decline to do. Our court has held that when an opinion on a question of law cannot affect the result as to the parties or controversy in the case before it, a court should not resolve the question merely for the sake of setting a precedent to govern potential future cases. Bluthardt v. Breslin, 74 Ill. 2d 246, 251 (1979); see also First National Bank v. Kusper, 98 Ill. 2d 226, 235 (1983) (court will not review cases merely to establish a precedent or guide future litigation). This limitation is no mere technicality. The existence of a real controversy is a prerequisite to the exercise of our jurisdiction. In re Estate of Wellman, 174 Ill. 2d 335, 353 (1996).
Our court has recognized an exception to the mootness doctrine when the question involved is of a public nature, the circumstances are likely to recur, and an authoritative determination for the future guidance of public officers is desirable. Lucas v. Lakin, 175 Ill. 2d 166, 170 (1997). The exception is construed narrowly (see Edwardsville School Service Personnel Ass’n v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, 235 Ill. App. 3d 954, 959 (1992)), and a clear showing of each criterion is required to bring a case within its terms (Bonaguro v. County Officers Electoral Board, 158 Ill. 2d 391, 395 (1994)).
The case before us today does not meet this exacting standard. Although the constitutionality of the fitness provisions challenged here does present a question of substantial public interest, the need to make an authoritative determination for future guidance of public officers is questionable. This case does not present a situation where the law is in disarray or there is conflicting precedent. Various panels of the appellate court have considered similar constitutional challenges to the fitness provisions of the Adoption Act and consistently found them to be valid. See In re A.S.B., 293 Ill. App. 3d 836 (1997); In re J.S., 213 Ill. App. 3d 126 (1991); In re I.D., 205 Ill. App. 3d 543 (1990). The circuit court’s decision here is the only one to hold otherwise, and it has no precedential value. See Forest Preserve District v. Estes, 222 Ill. App. 3d 167, 177 (1991); Kennedy Brothers, Inc. v. Property Tax Appeal Board, 158 Ill. App. 3d 154, 165 (1987). It is binding only with respect to the adoption of these two particular children.
Because the children have now been adopted with their biological mother’s consent, the mother’s fitness, and the standards by which that fitness is determined, will not be at issue again. The constitutionality of the fitness provisions may still arise in other adoption cases. There is no reason to believe, however, that the question cannot be fully litigated by the affected parties there. The long and complex history of this case demonstrates that this is not the sort of dispute which is, by its nature, too short in duration to be fully litigated prior to its cessation.
Having concluded that the case is moot and that it does not fall within the public interest exception to mootness, we must still address how this litigation should be resolved. Normally when an issue presented on appeal becomes moot, the appeal will be dismissed. To dismiss the appeal here would be inappropriate, however, because it would leave standing the circuit court’s unreviewed judgment that sections 1(D)(k) and 1(D)(p) of the Adoption Act are unconstitutional. First National Bank, 98 Ill. 2d at 236. Because we do not determine the correctness of that judgment, the proper course is to vacate the judgment and remand the cause to the circuit court with directions to dismiss the complaint. In re Special Prosecutor, 126 Ill. 2d 208 (1988); Bluthardt, 74 Ill. 2d at 251.
For the foregoing reasons, the judgment is vacated, and the cause is remanded to the circuit court of Cook County with directions to dismiss the Walgreens’ petition for adoption.
Vacated and remanded with directions.
Tad Walgreen (1960-1996) Loren Walgreen (1968-1999)
They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but the sad chronicle of Tad Walgreen and his estranged wife Loren may represent an exception. Before the scion of the Walgreen drugstore chain and his wife died from apparent drug overdoses, the two were tangled in a high-profile custody battle with Tad’s father and stepmother, retired Walgreen CEO Charles “Cork” Walgreen III and his wife Kathleen.
Tad, who had served prison time for a felony drunk driving conviction and was facing charges for illegally obtaining prescription drugs from a Walgreen store, had agreed to give up his parental rights to his and Loren’s two children, provided his wife was deemed an unfit parent. But Loren wasn’t willing to give up her rights easily and fought to prevent Charles Walgreen and his wife from adopting the children, who were already in their care.
The courts ruled in Loren’s favor, saying the state law allowing parents to be declared unfit because of a history of drug abuse or mental illness was unconstitutional as worded. Despite the victory, Loren consented to the adoption in 1998 when the family agreed to pay her $750,000. She later changed her mind and continued to pursue the case, despite continued run-ins with the law.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Crain Communications, Inc.
Byline: Daniel I. Dorfman
Charles R. Walgreen Jr., 99, son of Walgreen Co.’s founder, lives on his yacht about half the year
Charles R. “Cork” Walgreen III, 69, ran Walgreen from 1969 to 1998; retired and lives in Lake Forest (son)
Kevin Walgreen, 45, executive vice-president of store operations, last remaining Walgreen to work at the company on a day-to-day basis
Charles “Rick” Walgreen, 48, lives in Lake Forest, an entrepreneur
Les Walgreen, 37, president of his own real estate firm
Chris Walgreen, 32, investor, on the board of the Adventurers Club of Chicago; spends a large portion of the year traveling
Rx for wealth: Charles Rudolph Walgreen, son of Swedish immigrants, came to Chicago from Dixon, borrowed some money from his father and, in 1901, purchased his first store at 4134 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Today, Walgreen has more than 4,800 U.S. stores with $42 billion in sales, ranking 38th on the Fortune 500 list.
Charles Walgreen Jr. took over the operations in 1939, following his father’s death. He retired in 1969, handing the reins to Charles III.
In 1998, Charles III stepped down as CEO and, for the first time, the company went outside for a CEO, recruiting L. Daniel Jorndt to the top job. He retired in 2003; David Bernauer is now CEO.
Money: Only Chris Walgreen was willing to be interviewed. When asked about his wealth, he responds, “That’s nobody’s business but my own.”
He concedes there are perks to having a little name recognition, such as occasionally getting a good table at a restaurant. Yet he also contends that having a well-known name is not always easy. “It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time,” he says. “A lot of times you wonder when you meet people, `Do they like me because I am Chris, or because my last name is Walgreen?’ There is always that suspicion.”
His father, Charles Walgreen III, holds nearly 3.6 million shares of Walgreen stock, or less than 1% of the 1.02 billion shares outstanding, according to recent federal filings. Walgreen shares have been trading in the $44 range recently, which would put the value of Mr. Walgreen’s stake at roughly $150 million.
The next generation: Kevin Walgreen is the only family member who remains active in the day-to-day running of the company. Charles “Rick” Walgreen is involved in organizations such as Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond and the Lake Forest Open Lands Association.
Chris Walgreen, meanwhile, is sometimes mentioned as a potential political candidate. When asked, he doesn’t deny he has political ambitions.
Whether or not he decides to take the plunge into politics, the success of Walgreen will likely keep the family name in the public eye for some time. “Some of my family members (will be influential). Some of my family members will be private and do their own thing; some are more into the spotlight than others,” he says.
Left: Charles R. Walgreen Jr. with his yacht * Charles R. Walgreen * Charles R. Walgreen III