Michael Cudahy, a Major Milwaukee Philanthropist, Dies at 97

He’s had a massive impact on the city throughout his life.

Michael Cudahy, a prominent Milwaukee philanthropist with a famously eclectic personality, has died at 97. He passed away on Friday, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal, which broke the news. 

A 2007 profile of Cudahy, written by longtime MilMag editor Kurt Chandler, memorializes him as a man who wore many hats, who played a role in almost everything that went on in Milwaukee. Cudahy first made a name for himself as co-founder of the medical technology company, Marquette Electronics. He later made a fortune for himself when he sold that company to General Electric for an easy $153 million in 1998. 

He spent the rest of his life giving that money away, forging a legacy as “one of Milwaukee’s greatest – and perhaps its most unorthodox – philanthropists in history,” Chandler reported. “He was a geek before the word was invented, an American playboy before Hef personified the term.” 

The feature-length story, titled, “The Lion in Winter,” mentions in the closing paragraphs a “Letter to Milwaukee” written by Cudahy and sealed with wax: “It’s not to be opened until my 100th birthday, whether I’m living or dead,” Cudahy said. In just three years, we will have another new Michael Cudahy story to tell.

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