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J.C. Penney’s Deep Connection to Battle Creek – How the Man Behind the Store Turned His Life Around Here

JC Penney To Permanently Mark Down Merchandise By 40 Percent
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The JCPenney store at Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek is one of 138 to be closing this summer. But did you know the man behind the store, James Cash Penney turned his life around after losing his fortune by spending time at Battle Creek‘s historic Sanitarium?

The story about Penney at the Battle Creek Sanitarium is interesting. After the Great Depression, the company prospered, but Penney himself lost everything, paying off debts. He was verging on a nervous breakdown. He checked into the Sanitarium around Christmas, 1931

An old friend convinced him to enter a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. The rest and medical attention did him good, but there was another event that restored him spiritually. (Attributed to The Spiritual Journey of J. C. Penney, by Dr. Orlando L. Tibbetts, published by Rutledge Books at

Penney’s Wikipedia biography says he experienced an epiphany there

After hearing the hymn “God Will Take Care of You” being sung at a service in the hospital’s chapel, Penney became a born-again Christian.

According to author Dick Kazan, the Battle Creek experience turned his life around. He managed to return to the JCPenney chain, and was paid a salary, and some wise investments made him financially secure again.

Next: The Legend Of Crying Mary At Battle Creek’s Oak Hill Cemetery

BONUS VIDEO – Fly Over of the Former Checker Motor Corporation Site in Kalamazoo

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