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Richard Franke, former CEO of John Nuveen and co-founder of Chicago Humanities Festival, dies at 90 – Chicago Tribune


Richard J. Franke, the CEO of Chicago funding financial institution John Nuveen & Co. for 22 years, co-founded the Chicago Humanities Festival and helped set up the Franke Institute for the Humanities on the University of Chicago to encourage new initiatives throughout conventional departmental and disciplinary strains.

“Mr. Franke was a wonderful friend of the humanities,” mentioned retired U. of C. President Hanna Gray. “He was above all concerned … that the beauties of the humanities and the arts be at the center of educational purpose and enrich the lives of people, including his employees, his colleagues, people throughout the community and his philanthropies.”

Franke, 90, died of problems from pneumonia on April 15 in New York City, mentioned his daughter Katherine. A Chicago-area resident for 63 years, Franke since November had divided his time between Arizona and New Haven, Connecticut.

Born in Springfield, Richard James Franke earned a bachelor’s diploma from Yale University in 1953. After serving within the Army, Franke returned to high school, receiving an MBA from Harvard in 1957. From there, he joined Chicago-based John Nuveen & Co., which on the time largely managed municipal bond investments.

Franke rose rapidly, changing into a vp in 1965, an govt vp in 1969, the agency’s chief administrative officer in 1970 and president and CEO in 1974. On his watch, Nuveen grew considerably and pioneered the event of unit funding trusts, which provided small traders shares in a set portfolio of municipal bonds.

“Rich led the firm very well. He understood markets, he understood risk and he focused on the management of our risk positions,” mentioned Donald Sveen, a former president and chief working officer of Nuveen.

Franke additionally was deeply concerned in hiring new workers, and he was inquisitive about hiring not solely prime MBAs however analysts with larger levels within the humanities similar to historical past, English and philosophy.

“He gave weight to new employees’ education, not so much are they business grads, but, can they think, can they reason?” Sveen mentioned. “He was interested in their development.”

An Evanston resident within the late Nineteen Sixties, he was president of the Southeast Evanston Association group group. He later joined the board of trustees of Yale University, and in 1987, he joined the board of the U. of C., the place he served for the subsequent twenty years.

In 1984, Franke was appointed to the board of the Illinois Humanities Council, and he was its chairman from 1989 till 1991.

“The word ‘humanities’ may be a vague term for some people, but for me, it has to do with all the ways we talk about the human condition,” Franke instructed the Tribune in 1997. “The humanities are the essence of what life is all about. What makes up a successful life? Why are you the way you are? Some people examine this through writing, some through art or music or painting.”

In the late Eighties, he helped create the Chicago Humanities Festival, an annual sequence of lectures, concert events and movies. The occasion began as a one-day gathering on the Art Institute of Chicago and at Orchestra Hall, across the theme of “expressions of freedom.”

The pageant expanded rapidly into being a multiday occasion and now could be a citywide, year-round suite of widespread applications. Franke chaired the occasion till 2006.

“I wanted to do something that made a difference,” he instructed the Tribune in 1997. “I’d been playing with the idea of finding a way to bring the humanities to more people.”

Willard Fraumann, who succeeded Franke because the pageant’s chairman, known as Franke a “powerful thinker” who, when he believed in an concept, “supported it heart and soul.” And Phillip Bahar, the pageant’s govt director, recalled how Franke noticed the pageant as a approach to create a platform for difficult new concepts drawn each from thinkers and skills in Chicago and from world wide.

“Rich had the ability, through his influence and sheer force of will, to mobilize others, inspiring them to dream about what may be possible,” Bahar mentioned.

In 1990, the U. of C. opened the Franke Institute for the Humanities, which inspires creativity throughout disciplines and was renamed for Franke and his spouse, Barbara, in 1999.

“Rich was a tireless advocate of making the humanities publicly available, both nationally and locally,” mentioned Jim Chandler, the director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities from 2001 till 2018.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Franke to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities advisory panel.

After retiring from Nuveen in 1996, Franke continued serving on quite a few nonprofit boards, together with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. In 1996, Franke was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

“He was a leader in creating the academy’s Humanities and Culture initiative, and he enriched the dialogue among business, philanthropic, public policy and academic leaders,” mentioned Jonathan Fanton, the academy’s former president. “He was a model of what John Adams and John Hancock imagined when they created the Academy in 1780.”

In 1997, President Bill Clinton honored Franke with the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest arts and humanities award.

Franke wrote two books: “Cut from Whole Cloth,” which was revealed by the University of Chicago Press in 2004 and coated the story of Franke’s immigrant grandparents’ wrestle to construct a brand new life in America, and “Books, Bonds and Balance: Ruminations of a Pensive Grandfather,” a 2014 assortment of life classes.

Franke is also survived by his spouse of 64 years, Barbara; one other daughter, Jane; and two grandchildren.

Services are being deliberate for Chicago and New York.

Bob Goldsborough is a contract reporter.

To buy a dying discover, go to https://placeanad.chicagotribune.com/death-notices. To counsel a staff-written obituary on an individual of native curiosity, e-mail chicagoland@chicagotribune.com



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