Former Senator and Bucks Owner Dead

( – Herb Kohl, the businessman and philanthropist who will go down in history as the person who kept the Bucks in Milwaukee, has died. The former NBA team owner, who also served as a US senator for 24 years, was probably best known for his work in his family’s business, Kohl’s supermarkets and department stores. He was 88 years old.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states that Kohl suffered a “brief illness” before he passed away, offering no further details. The beloved Wisconsin resident had made a name for himself as a multi-millionaire who never lost touch with his humble roots.

Kohl’s parents were Jewish Polish and Russian immigrants. They came to the United States with the shirts on their backs and worked hard to build the Kohl’s brand from the ground up. Herb Kohl became the company’s president in 1970. By 1972, the family had 50 supermarkets and six department stores, which they sold to British American Tobacco. The young businessman, who worked his way up the corporate ladder, starting out as a bag boy, stayed with the company until 1979.

An avid basketball fan, Kohl bought the Milwaukee Bucks in 1985 for $18 million. While the owner, he rejected offers to move the team — even refusing to sell to NBA superstar Michael Jordan at one point — and then donated $100 million toward building the Fiserv Forum to ensure the team remained in Milwaukee after he sold it for $550 million in 2014.

Kohl also made his mark in American politics, following the philosophies of one of his heroes, John F. Kennedy. During his time as a Wisconsin senator, which spanned between 1989 and 2013, he rallied for the poor, worked to improve educational opportunities, established child care training on a national level, and created a financial aid program. Kohl served as a Democrat, but he hated the label, preferring simply to call himself “a businessman.”

Kohl never married and never had any children. He is survived by his three siblings.

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