MADISON - Frank L. Bixby passed away on Saturday, July 20, 2019, at age 91. His wife of over 67 years, Kaki, predeceased him by less than three months. He is survived by four children and nine grandchildren.
Frank—known as “Bix” to most of his friends and colleagues—was born in New Richmond, Wisconsin on May 25, 1928, to Frank H. and Esther (Otteson) Bixby. During the Depression, the family moved to Madison, Wis. where Frank attended West High School. He later attended Harvard College and returned to Madison for law school at the University of Wisconsin, where he became Editor in Chief of the Law Review. After graduation, he went to work for the Chicago law firm, Sidley Austin, LLP—then known as Sidley, Austin, Burgess, & Smith. He spent his entire career at the firm and saw it grow from fewer than 50 attorneys to over 2,000. He served the firm in various roles, including head of its Estates and Trusts group for many years. He continued working with clients through the firm until he was 90.
Evanston, Ill. was Frank’s home for 40 years and he raised his four children (Paul, Tom, Ned, and Janet) there. He was elected to be a member of the School Board of Evanston Township High School (District 202) and served as President of the Board. Later, Frank and Kaki moved to Lake Point Tower in Chicago and, in their last few years, to Portland, Ore. to live with his daughter Janet.
Frank’s expertise and guidance helped create and maintain enduring institutions. He worked with the founder of Science Research Associates (SRA) to establish the Spencer Foundation, supporting educational research. He served on the Foundation’s Board for 33 years, including as the President of the Board for 15 years. The Foundation honored his service with a series of annual lectures in his name. He similarly helped to ensure that the Allerton Gardens in Urbana, Ill. and Kauai, Hawaii would be saved for posterity.
Frank was a lifelong supporter of civil rights. Among other organizations, he was involved with the Chicago Urban League for over 50 years as a Board member and volunteer. He was named the League’s Man of the Year in 1974. He also served as the Co-Chair of the Lawyers’ Committee supporting Harold Washington’s campaign to become Mayor of Chicago.
Frank was a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Cubs—he attended World Series games in the last three Series in which the Cubs played before their 2016 Title (1935, 1938, and 1945). Frank and Kaki loved to travel and logged thousands of miles visiting all corners of the globe.
The family is planning only a private service.