Business Leader Alvin Boutte Sr. Has Died

The co-founder of the largest Black-owned bank passed away at age 82. 

Posted: 04/03/2012 05:40 PM EDT

(Photo: Chicago Sun-Times)

Alvin Boutte Sr., the co-founder of the nation’s largest Black-owned bank, died Sunday. He was 82.

Boutte led Independence Bank in Chicago, which issued loans to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s to help keep the civil rights movement alive.

As a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Boutte earned a pharmacist degree at Xavier University. He became a part of the Great Migration that brought African-Americans to Chicago as he sought opportunities denied to him in the South.


The Black businessman got his professional start owning and operating a Chicago drugstore. The store expanded into a chain and, after its success, Boutte became acquainted with other Black leaders, including George Johnson, the powerhouse behind Ultra Sheen and Afro-Sheen hair care products. The two helped found Independence Bank in 1964, the nation’s largest minority-owned bank, which eventually became the first Black bank to acquire a financially-healthy white bank, Drexel National. In 1970, he became the CEO and chairman of the bank and he later retired in 1995.

He has been noted as being part of a wave of innovators who transformed Chicago’s African-American community.

For more than 30 years, he served on the boards of the Chicago Metropolitan Insurance Company and Johnson Products.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; his daughters, Janice Boutte and Jeanette Simpson; his sons, Al Jr. and Gregory, and four grandchildren. 

Services are scheduled for April 14 at St. Clotilde Church at 84th and Calumet in Chicago.

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