Wagswoofs – Former U.S. senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88 after a short illness.
Herb Kohl Philanthropies has announced the passing of an individual, whose identity has not been disclosed.
Herb Kohl was known for his unwavering commitment to prioritizing people above all else. Whether it was his employees, their families, customers, or various charitable organizations and initiatives, Kohl always made sure to place their needs at the forefront. “Throughout his life, Herb Kohl always put people first,” stated JoAnne Anton, the director of giving at Herb Kohl Philanthropies, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Herb Kohl Way isn’t just the name of a street in front of the Fiserv Forum. The Herb Kohl Way perfectly sums up a legacy of humility, commitment, compromise, and kindness to countless people he worked with, served and helped along the way. Those values will live on through his Foundation.”
Kohl’s upbringing took place in Milwaukee, where he was raised by his parents who were immigrants from Russia and Poland.
According to the Journal-Sentinel, Kohl’s parents arrived with nothing. Kohl himself said, “None of us ever thought we could get by on anything less than a full effort in life.”
Maxwell Kohl, the father of the Kohl’s retail empire, established Kohl’s Food Stores in 1946.
In 1962, the first Kohl’s department store was established after the supermarkets successfully expanded throughout the Milwaukee area.
In 1970, Herb assumed the role of president as the company experienced further growth.
In 1972, Kohl’s had 50 supermarkets and six department stores when the company was sold to British American Tobacco. Herb remained in management until 1979.
Ron Kohl was a Democratic U.S. senator from 1989 to 2013, where he successfully secured four elected terms before deciding to step aside.
In 1985, he purchased the Milwaukee Bucks for $18 million from John Fitzgerald. Later in 2014, he sold the franchise to New York financiers Wes Edens and Marc Lasry for $550 million. James Dinan, another New York financier, also bought into the team that year. Recently, Lasry sold his stake in the team to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
Kohl strongly insisted on keeping the team in Milwaukee, rejecting an offer from NBA legend Michael Jordan, who would later buy and then sell the Charlotte Hornets. Kohl even contributed $100 million towards the construction of the team’s new arena, the Fiserv Forum, even after he had sold the team.
In the 1990s, Kohl demonstrated his generosity by contributing $25 million towards the development of the Kohl Center. This state-of-the-art facility serves as the home arena for the Badger basketball and hockey teams, both of which are affiliated with his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Milwaukee mayor Cavalier Johnson highlighted the remarkable humility of the man, considering his immense wealth. It was not uncommon to spot him sitting at a table in a local café, despite having the means to indulge in the finest luxuries. This statement was made during a press conference held on Wednesday evening.
“He never acted like he was important or tried to be snobbish. He was always just Herb.”
Johnson emphasized that Kohl’s legacy would be one of friendliness and generosity. He also highlighted an important fact for the passionate sports fans in the city – Kohl’s instrumental role in saving the Milwaukee Bucks team.