Bio: Herb Kohl
Public servant, philanthropist, businessman and professional sports team owner. All four accurately describe Herb Kohl, who begins his 29th season as president and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks organization. Kohl purchased the team on March 1, 1985 from Jim Fitzgerald, ensuring it would remain in Milwaukee.
“From the very beginning, my association with the Bucks has been a wonderful experience,” Kohl remarked. “Wherever I go, people come up to me and talk about the team. The opportunity I was given to purchase and to keep the team here in Milwaukee is one of the most unique and fortunate experiences I’ve ever enjoyed.”
In 1988, Kohl was elected to a six-‐year term as Wisconsin’s 25th United States Senator, and he would go on to serve four terms in office. Having announced he would not seek re-‐election, Senator Kohl completed 24 years of public service at the end of 2012.
A Milwaukee native who grew up in the Sherman Park neighborhood, Kohl has maintained a lifetime commitment to his home city and state. He attended Sherman Elementary School and Milwaukee Washington High School. Kohl graduated from the University of Wisconsin-‐Madison in 1956, and went on to earn a Master’s degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1958. Kohl served in the Army Reserve from 1958-‐64.
From 1959-‐69, Kohl served in many capacities with the then family-‐owned Kohl Corporation, operators of grocery and department stores. His parents had built their first Kohl’s Food Market in the late ’20s, and from that inauspicious beginning, grew the business into one of the Midwest’s leading grocery and department store chains. Kohl was president from 1970 through the sale of the corporation by the family in 1979, and the Kohl’s Department Stores have now expanded throughout the United States.
After years of involvement in public affairs in Wisconsin, having served as general chairman of Milwaukee’s United Way campaign and state chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Kohl decided to run for the United States Senate seat vacated by William Proxmire. He was first elected to a six-‐year term in 1988, re-‐elected in November of 1994, in November of 2000, and again in November of 2006. His fourth and final term expired at the end of the 112th Congress on January 3, 2013.
Involved in a vast array of community-‐minded projects, Kohl has consistently championed the cause of education. He established the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Excellence Scholarship and Fellowship Award Program in 1990. As of August 2013, the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation has awarded a total of $8.6 million to Wisconsin educators, students and schools.
With a life-‐long interest in sports, Kohl was one of 10 original investors in the Milwaukee Brewers, and he also initiated negotiations with then NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy, which ultimately led to the granting of a franchise in January of 1968 to a group of Milwaukee investors.
Kohl’s interest in sports does not stop at the professional level. In April of 1995, Kohl donated $25 million to his alma mater to help provide a state-‐of-‐the-‐art new home for the University of Wisconsin-‐Madison men’s and women’s basketball teams,as well as the men’s hockey team.
“I was very happy to be in a position to help build a first-‐rate, state-‐of-‐the-‐art sports arena,” said Kohl. “I think it enhances the university’s reputation as one of the premier athletic programs in the Big Ten and the country.”
Recognized for his many efforts, Kohl has received numerous awards from throughout the state of Wisconsin, including: the 2013 Fellowship Open Legends Award from the Fellowship Open, one of the country’s largest diversity charity golf outings, for his contributions in government service, business and in philanthropy; induction into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007; an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Ripon College in 1999; Best Corporate Citizen of 1997 by Madison Magazine; the “Kiwanis Milwaukee Award” in 1987; an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Cardinal Stritch College of Milwaukee in 1986; the Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau “Lamplighter Award” in 1986; named “Humanitarian of the Year” in 1986 by the Wisconsin Parkinson Association; “Wisconsin Sports Personality of the Year” in 1985 by the Milwaukee Pen and Mike Club; and the “Joe Killeen Memorial Sportsman of the Year” in 1985 by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.
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