Alabama Academy of Honor


Joseph Linyer Bedsole

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1975.



Joseph Linyer Bedsole, an industrialist and noted philanthropist, was born in 1881, on a farm near Thomasville in Clarke County. Educated in the public schools there, he moved to Montgomery when he was eighteen and entered the business world as a clerk in a shoe store. Three years later, he returned to Thomasville, and with his father, founded the firm that would become Bedsole and Brother in 1907 and the Bedsole Dry Goods Company in 1913.

In 1919, he moved to Mobile and formed the Bedsole-Colvin Drug Company. When Bedsole-Colvin merged in 1937 with McKesson-Robbins, a national pharmaceutical manufacturer, Mr. Bedsole became vice president of McKesson-Robbins, and in 1934, was made a divisional vice president and charged with overseeing McKesson's activities in the South. Since retiring from his executive post there in 1946, he devoted himself to a multitude of civic and philanthropic concerns and to business ventures in Mobile that have included lumber, investment, and trading companies.

From 1926, when he was instrumental in establishing the Mobile Community Chest, to 1972, when he spearheaded the drive to restore the old General Hospital in Mobile, Mr. Bedsole devoted himself to the welfare of the Mobile community. As the chairman of the citizen's committee which directed the refunding of the city's indebtedness, he helped to place the city government on a sound fiscal footing. During World War II, he was the vice president of the Alabama War Chest, and from 1943 to 1944, head of the Price Adjustment Board of the Birmingham Ordnance District. And in the years immediately following the war, he devoted innumerable hours to the effort that earned him the Civitan Club's Mobilian of the Year Award in 1951 -- raising funds for the construction of the four-million-dollar Infirmary completed in 1952.

For his work as a trustee of Howard College (now Samford University), he was honored as Man of the Year in 1955 by the Howard Alumni Association and the Women's Auxiliary, and for his work on behalf of Mobile College, he received its first honorary degree, an LL.D. granted in 1968. His connection with Mobile College has long been close. Instrumental in its founding, he served as chairman of the board of trustees from 1962 to 1967, became an honorary trustee in 1967, and donated funds for the construction of the J. L. Bedsole Library, which was dedicated in 1971.

In 1972, he pledged $500,000 to the restoration of the former Mobile General Hospital and became the largest individual donor to historic preservation in Mobile's History. The Hospital, valuable for its architectural distinction and colorful history, might have been demolished without Mr. Bedsole's generous gift.

Earlier, he had donated the Admiral Semmes House to the First Baptist Church of Mobile. A dedicated member of the congregation of First Baptist, he served as a deacon since 1924 and as president of the largest bible class in the history of Mobile.

A Mason and a past president of the Rotary Club, Mr. Bedsole was married in 1910 to the former Phala Bradford, who died in 1949. They had one son, J. L. Bedsole, Jr., who was killed in action over Germany in 1944. Mr. Bedsole is now deceased.