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Herbert Kohl

(1935 - 2023)

Herb Kohl was a Jewish American politician and businessman and a former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.

Kohl was born on February 7, 1935, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to parents who had immigrated to the United States from Poland and Russia. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1956 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1958. Kohl served in the Army Reserve from 1958 to 1964.

Before coming to the Senate, Kohl helped build his family-owned business, Kohl’s grocery and department stores. He served as president of the business from 1970 through the sale of the corporation in 1979. In 1985 he bought the Milwaukee Bucks to ensure the basketball team remained in Milwaukee.

During his time in office, Kohl was recognized as a leader in Congress for his work in balancing the federal budget. Kohl also focused on anti-crime legislation, especially crimes related to kids. He reauthorized juvenile justice programs in the federal government and authored laws that prevent the sale of handguns to minors and prohibit handguns from being brought into a school zone.

In 1990, Kohl established the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Achievement Award Program, which provides annual grants totaling $100,000 to 100 graduating seniors, 100 teachers, and 100 schools throughout Wisconsin. In 1995, Kohl donated $25 million to the University of Wisconsin for a new sports arena.

After winning reelection to the Senate in 1994, 2000, and 2006, Kohl did not seek another term and retired effective January 1, 2013. He died on December 27, 2023.

Sources: U.S. Senate.

Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.