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Robert Pritzker

(1926 - 2011)

Robert Pritzker (born June 30, 1926; died October 27, 2011) was a Jewish American businessman, one of America's wealthiest men and founder of the Marmon Group, a conglomerate of manufacturing and industrial companies.

Pritzker was born and raised in Chicago and was the grandson of European immigrants who shined shoes and sold newpapers to make a living. Pritzker's father, A.N. Pritzker, was able to attend law school as a young student and eventually started a very profitable practice. Robert Pritzker became an engineer by trade after graduating his bachelor degree in industrial engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1946.

Though his last name his not necessarily a househould one, Pritzker and his brother Jay were key to the building of one of America's largest private companies, the Marmon Group, which today is a $7 billion conglomerate of companies that was purchased by Warren Buffet in 2008. Pritzker's family's holdings have included the Hyatt hotel chain, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, banks, tobacco companies and other businesses. Many of Marmon’s companies produced low profile but profitable products such as railroad tank cars, highway equipment, piping, cables and medical devices.

In 2002, Robert Pritzker retired from his position of President of The Marmon Group though his fortune from leading the business brought him a great deal of family issues. Two of his children, Liesel and Matthew, filed a lawsuit alleging he and other family members had taken money from their trust funds and did not consult them on. The case was settled in 2005, at which time Pritzker said in a statement he had acted properly: “I love them very much and it’s sad they feel they were wronged.” 

Pritzker was a chairman of the board of trustees of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, and was on the board at American Enterprise Institute, Chicago Jazz Ensemble, Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Park Zoo, and Rush University Medical Center, among others. The Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies at the Field Museum's Department of Geology in Chicago houses the largest meteorite collection at a private institution.

Robert Pritzker passed away on October 27, 2011 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, JTA, Wikipedia