Dierberg, William Family

By Ann Chrissos

Dierbergs Markets is one of three family owned supermarket chains in the St. Louis Metro Area along with Schnucks and Straub’s.  Its founder, William F. Dierberg Sr., (b, 23 Aug 1876, d. 17 July 1945),  began his career as a blacksmith at the age of fourteen, when his family moved to Lake, Missouri (present day Chesterfield near Hog Hollow Road).  He took a job in Mr. Zierenberg’s blacksmith shop, which was located next to the 18 Mile House, Zierenberg’s general store.  When Zierenberg decided to return to his native Germany for a year- long visit in 1910, Dierberg left the blacksmith business to manage the general store.  Upon Zierenberg’s return the following year, William moved his family to Creve Coeur and entered the retail merchandising business with H.M. Koch.  Koch’s store was located in the “Creve Coeur House”, which had been in existence since 1854 and became the first Dierbergs Market when he bought Koch out in 1914.  Dierberg’s Chesterfield  experience contributed to the development of his first market even thought it was located in Creve Coeur.

On 5 February 1899, William, Sr. married Amelia Rosenfelder.  They had seven children:  William F.; Bertha P.; Florence A.; Amelia P.; Fred W.; Vallie J.; and Lillian M.  Besides dealing with his large family and running his own business, William also found time to devote to civic pursuits. In 1922, he helped organize the St. Louis County River Improvement Association in an effort to protect 13,000 acres of land along the Missouri River in Bonhomme Township (Chesterfield).  He also served as Clerk of the Lake School Board and as a member of the Creve Coeur Farmers Club as well as a variety of other activities.

In 1929, Dierberg Sr. turned the grocery business over to his sons, William Dierberg, Jr. (b. 1 Nov. 1899, d. Oct. 1973) and Fred.  William, Jr. married Genevieve Catherine Deerling (b. 17 Dec. 1905, d. 19 Nov. 2013) and they had three children:  William, James and Robert.  Fred married Leone Ficke on 13 September 1931 and also had three children:  Roger, Carole and Dale.  The brothers had been working in their dad’s store from the time they were big enough to be helpful and they continued this tradition with their own children.  This store was moved to various locations in Creve Coeur until 1967, when William, Jr.’s son Robert (Bob) opened a second Dierbergs Market in Chesterfield.

The new store was four miles west of the Creve Coeur store at the corner of Olive Boulevard and Woods Mill Road.  The day before the Grand Opening set for 25 January 1967, an F4 tornado touched down just west of the store at River Bend Estates.  However, the store was left unscathed and opened on schedule.  A year later Bob married Sharon Martel whom he had met during one of her shopping trips to his store.  Today Bob serves as Chairman of Dierbergs Markets Inc., while his son Greg is the CEO, daughter Laura Dierberg-Padousis is the VP and secretary and son Brian is in management.

The corporate headquarters was originally housed above Bob’s store until a second store at Clarkson and Baxter Roads opened in Chesterfield in July 1988.  The corporate offices were then moved to a site on Elbridge Payne Road (off Chesterfield Parkway East) until 1999 when they relocated to Swingley Ridge Road.  Today 25 Dierbergs Markets employs 4000 people and are found throughout the St. Louis Metro area as well as at two locations in Illinois and one at Lake of the Ozarks.  Although Dierbergs is known for its wide selection and quality of food items, it also provides cooking schools, FTD florists, pharmacies, banking, video rentals and bakeries.  Hence, Dierbergs’ customers are extremely faithful.

Many Chesterfield customers are certainly staunch Dierbergs shoppers and the store’s owners have been loyal to Chesterfield.  This is evident from the founder’s work and civic activities in the early twentieth century to the present day location of two stores and corporate headquarters in Chesterfield.  Thus the Chesterfield community has definitely contributed to Dierbergs development and growth.

Home of Mr. and Mrs. William Dierberg and family, located on the north side of Olive Street Road, east of the Zierenberg Mercantile Store in Lake, Missouri.     
Courtesy of Carole Dierberg Stroud
                                                  William Sr. and Amelia Dierberg, 1935
Courtesy of the Dierberg Markets.

Brown, Paul.  “Dierbergs:  Tradition through Four Generations,”  Ladue News, 21 Nov. 2013.
Dierberg, Leone Ficke interviewed by Arland Stemme on 17 March 1992.
http://www.Ancestry.com, Census and Vital Statistics.
http://www.fundinguniverse.com, “Dierbergs Market Inc. History.”
Vasel, Todd interviewed by Ann Chrissos on 14 Jan. 2016.
Whitney, Jean, “It’s 45 Years Since Bob Dierberg Opened His First Dierbergs,” Patch, 30 Jan. 2012.