Donald G. Lubin, Chicago attorney who had key roles with Ray Kroc, McDonald’s Corp., dead at 88

Attorney Donald G. Lubin’s attention to detail led him to a golden opportunity – with the golden bows. It all started with a call from McDonald’s Corp. executive June Martino.

“June Martino had called him out of the blue to ask him a simple question on behalf of a personal friend who wanted to know the residency requirement for obtaining a marriage certificate in Nevada,” wrote author John F. Love in his book “McDonald’s: Behind the Arches.” Lubin called a county clerk there and, within five minutes, phoned Martino with the answer.

“Impressed by such prompt service, Martino then asked Lubin to write his will. Soon this was followed by an even bigger plum – writing a will for his boss.

His boss was the Big Mac man himself: McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc.

Mr. Lubin began managing Kroc’s legal affairs and then also did legal work for McDonald’s.

He died last month aged 88 at his Highland Park home, according to his son Tom Lubin.

In 1967, at age 33, he became the youngest member of McDonald’s board of directors. He remained for 40 years, becoming its longest-serving director.

“They just left and took over the burger world,” said Harold C. Hirshman, an attorney at Dentons, where Mr. Lubin practiced for more than 60 years. “He negotiated the sale of the McDonald brothers to Ray. Ray got the right to franchise before he met Don, but the McDonald brothers still had some rights; it was important that they be purchased. So Don took care of it. Don was there when they opened the first store in Russia.

Hirshman said Mr. Lubin also guided Kroc on philanthropic giving and the creation of Ronald McDonald Houses, which provide parents with a place to stay near their hospitalized children.

His ties to Kroc led him to advise JR Simplot, a farmer who supplied potatoes for McDonald’s fries. Hirshman said Mr Lubin also handled the legal affairs of Sealy Mattress chief Morris Kaplan.

In his office, he had many memorabilia from the closing of the deals, such as Ronald McDonald memorabilia and a clock with golden arches.

“They reflected hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions,” Hirshman said.

In 1974, Mr. Lubin was thrilled when Kroc hired him to help buy and operate the San Diego Padres major league baseball team. A former Brooklyn kid who had grown up living and dying with the Dodgers, he found himself working with then-Padres president Buzzie Bavasi, a former Dodgers general manager.

According to a family history, when Bavasi asked who was in Kroc’s buying group, Mr. Lubin told him, “Mr. Kroc, in McDonald’s stock alone, is worth over $500 million.” He is the group.”

“Here Don was talking to the man who had built some of the great Dodgers teams of his youth, the man whose teams included Don’s childhood heroes: Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax “, said the story.

According to his son, among the free agents Mr. Lubin negotiated contracts with were stars Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers and Dave Winfield.

His father Harry, who grew up in an area of ​​present-day Poland, came to the United States in 1910. By 1917 he was serving in the United States Army Cavalry. Harry Lubin and his horse Cookie once guarded General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s tent on the Texas-Mexico border, according to the story.

The family of Mr Lubin’s immigrant mother, Edith Tannenbaum, bribed border guards to flee Odessa, Ukraine, at a time of pogroms.

Both of her parents worked in the garment industry.

Young Don went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn, where he was part of the Go-Getters cheer club with future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Don Lubin (top center, wearing glasses) in the Go-Getters cheer club at James Madison High School in Brooklyn. Future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was another member. According to the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office, Ginsburg is in this photo bottom center with his eyes closed.

He worked his way through the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania washing dishes for his fraternity, Phi Epsilon Pi. He earned his law degree at Harvard University.

Mr. Lubin said the 1954 TV show Army-Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s audiences helped inspire his career. They culminated in the denunciation of the “red-baiting” senator from Wisconsin, infamous for his claims that communists had infiltrated the government and all levels of American society, with an army lawyer responding to McCarthy’s attacks against one of the attorney’s colleagues with the indignant question that helped end the senator’s career: “Have you no sense of decency?”

“Lawyers were featured prominently on television, and I thought that looked like a neat profession,” Mr Lubin told Sheridan Road magazine.

Don and Amy Lubin-

Don and Amy Lubin – “DonAmy” – on their wedding day.

He met his future wife Amy Schwartz through a friend when she was a freshman at Wellesley College near Boston and he had just started law school.

She told the friend who proposed to meet her that it was not the right time, that she was having a farewell lunch with her parents, who had driven her to school from Chicago. But her mother encouraged her to meet him after lunch.

They married in 1956, a union they called “DonAmy”. Mr. Lubin has always loved the song “Once in Love with Amy”.

After graduating from law school in 1957, Mr. Lubin joined the Chicago firm Sonnenschein Lautmann Levinson Rieser Carlin & Nath, now Dentons. He chaired the cabinet from 1990 to 1996.

The Lubins raised their family in Highland Park in a home that became the setting for Alec Baldwin-Meg Ryan’s 1992 film “Prelude to a Kiss.”

Don and Amy Lubin in 2019 re-enacting their first kiss at Wellesley College's Beebe Hall.

Don and Amy Lubin in 2019 re-enacting their first kiss at Wellesley College’s Beebe Hall.

In 1973, as administrator of the Ravinia Festival, Mr. Lubin convinced Kroc to bolster his finances with a donation of $1 million.

“Don’s influence at Ravinia covered an important period in our history,” said Jeff Haydon, Festival President and CEO. “His influence here will be felt for generations.”

He chaired Ravinia’s board of directors from 1982 to 1985 and at one point featured Luciano Pavarotti at a benefit. Mr. Lubin wrote that, as he prepared, “I turned to Amy and said, ‘Imagine, I’m speaking in front of 16,000 people tonight.’ – And you know what, she replied, none of them came to hear you talk.

“Since then, I don’t care about it.”

Don and Amy Lubin.

Mr. Lubin’s philanthropic work included chairing the board of directors of Highland Park Hospital and serving for 40 years on the board of what is now Rush University Medical Center, where he helped plan a pandemic wing later used for coronavirus cases, his family said.

He also helped arrange sponsorship by his law firm of Legacy Charter School in North Lawndale.

McDonald’s Chairman Emeritus Andrew J. McKenna, who served on the company’s board with Mr. Lubin, said: “I never heard Don raise his voice. He did everything with dignity and fairness. … He had extraordinary logic about him, and that led you to the right conclusion.

Don and Amy Lubin at their Highland Park home, which was used in the film

Don and Amy Lubin at their Highland Park home, which was the setting for Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan’s 1992 film “Prelude to a Kiss.”

In addition to his wife and son Tom, Mr. Lubin is survived by his daughter Alice, sons Peter and Richard and eight grandchildren. Services took place.

Dentons honored Mr. Lubin when he created the Donald Lubin Award to recognize lawyers in the firm who combine legal skill with charity.

“I don’t remember him taking personal credit,” Hirshman said. “He would praise his team. He would congratulate the customer. But it was almost as if he had no part in the production, which is completely incorrect. His clients loved him.

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