Joseph Kellman, 90, a legend in Chicago business and Chicago philanthropy. Joe Kellman, a titan of the Chicago business and philanthropic communities, died peacefully on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010, at his home in Texas. He passed away on his 90th birthday surrounded by his family. Upon retirement in 2001, he and his wife LouAnne moved to Southern California, where they were residing at the time of his death. Joe Kellman was born on Jan. 7, 1920, and grew in the North Lawndale community of Chicago. In the 9th grade, Joe had to drop out of school to work in his father's glass shop. After his father's death, he and his brother Morrie assumed ownership of the business. When they dissolved their partnership in 1950, Joe took over two small retail glass shops and grew them into The Globe Group, the nation's largest privately owned auto glass replacement company. In 1999, Joe sold the company to Belron International. Joe's achievements in business were rivaled only by his charitable endeavors. He vowed never to forget his early beginnings and pledged to serve youth and their families in North Lawndale. His interest in boxing led him to open the Archie Moore Gym in 1961 at 1512 South Pulaski as an after-school boxing club for boys. Shortly after opening the gym, Joe realized that sports alone could not change a young person's life. In the mid 1960s, Joe, with the help of long-time friend Buddy Hackett, transitioned the gym into the Better Boys Foundation (BBF). Today, BBF serves some 800 boys and girls each year through licensed child welfare services, innovative out-of-school time programs, and college scholarships. Its operations are housed in a 30,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility financed by the Joseph Kellman Family Foundation. The new BBF Center opened in 2008 and represents Joe's 50-year commitment to North Lawndale. In 1988, Joe co-founded with Vernon Loucks, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Baxter International, and Fred Turner, Chairman and CEO of McDonalds, the Corporate/Community Schools of America, the country's first corporate-sponsored school. His intent was to prove that the common business practices could be applied to public schools to improve learning. The Joseph Kellman Corporate/Community School in North Lawndale is now one of Chicago's best performing. Along with his successful business career, philanthropic work, and advocacy efforts, Joe also bred racehorses and promoted every major boxing event in the city of Chicago over a 20-year period with friend and partner Ben Bentley. His premiere racehorse was Shecky Greene, an internationally renowned sprinter that won the Eclipse Award as 1973 Sprint Champion, the same year he ran in the Kentucky Derby and set the pace for Secretariat in his record run. Joe Kellman lived a long and fulfilling life that he shared fully with his family and friends. Joe was predeceased by his daughter Celia (Cissy). He is survived by his wife LouAnne; sons Jack and Richard Kellman; stepsons Bill and Bruce Suggs; grandchildren Robert Saxner, Cindy DeMaio, Allison Cantrell, Colette, Jake, Olivia, and Stephanie Kellman, and Suzannah and Kye Suggs; and great-grandchildren Jaclyn, Dylan, and Brooke DeMaio, and Owen and Maeve Saxner. Joe Kellman will be remembered always as a man of exceptional integrity who was committed to equity of opportunity for all people. A public visitation will be held Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010, at the Better Boys Foundation, 1512 South Pulaski Road in Chicago. Valet parking will be provided. A private burial service has also been planned. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Better Boys Foundation, 1512 South Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL, 60623.
Published in Chicago Tribune on Jan. 10, 2010.