Store magnate Herb Kohl, former U.S. senator, Milwaukee Bucks owner, dead at 88

Herb Kohl, the retail shopping magnate who served in the U.S. Senate for Wisconsin and was the former owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, died Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 88.

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Kohl’s death was announced by the Herb Kohl Foundation, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He grew up in the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee and attended Sherman Elementary School and Washington High School, according to the newspaper.

“Throughout his life, Herb Kohl always put people first – from his employees and their families to his customers and countless charitable organizations and efforts,” stated JoAnne Anton, director of giving for Herb Kohl Philanthropies. “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 won election to the U.S. Senate in 1988 and served for 24 years, according to WISN-TV. He was consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth estimated at $300 million in 1999, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Kohl used his used his money to fund his Senate races, according to The Associated Press. That allowed him to portray himself as “nobody’s senator but yours.”

Kohl graduated from the University of Wisconsin and earned an MBA from Harvard, WTMJ-TV reported. He and his brothers built a chain of more than 50 Kohl’s grocery stores across the Midwest. His family opened the first Kohl’s department store in 1962, according to the television station.

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Kohl became the president of Kohl’s Corp. in 1970, WISN reported.

The Milwaukee native was part of the group – along with his childhood friend, Allan “Bud” Selig – that brought the Seattle Pilots to Wisconsin in 1970, as the franchise was renamed the Brewers, the Journal Sentinel reported. In 1985 he bought the Bucks to keep the NBA team in his hometown, according to the newspaper.

Kohl sold the Bucks to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens in April 2014 for $550 million, a then-record for an NBA franchise, according to the Journal Sentinel.

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