January 08, 2014

In Memoriam: Bob Wilczek

With deep sadness we write of the passing of our former partner, colleague and good friend, Bob Wilczek on Wednesday, January 8, 2014. Bob battled valiantly over the past few years with various aggressive forms of cancer all the while with great determination and dignity. January 8 was also Bob’s 70th birthday.

Bob joined Gardner, Carton & Douglas on June 1, 1968 upon graduation from Notre Dame Law School. Soon after, Bob took leave from the firm to join the U.S. Army as a Captain and serve in Vietnam as a combat intelligence and infantry advisor to local and regional infantry forces. Bob served our country with valor and was awarded two Bronze stars.

Bob rejoined the firm in 1971 and became a partner in GCD’s Corporate Department in 1976. He had the good fortune to work closely with Ray Garrett (former chair of the SEC) until Ray’s untimely death in 1980. Bob learned the value of strong mentoring from his relationship with Ray, and he in turn assumed the obligation to mentor many young partners and associates in dealing with the challenges of professional and personal life. Bob was fully devoted to his numerous mentoring relationships over his entire career. In the course of Bob’s outstanding career, he took the lead in structuring and negotiating more than 200 domestic and international mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, and joint ventures in a broad range of industries. He served as principal outside counsel in the U.S. to a number of foreign-based public and private companies and served on their U.S. Boards of Directors. Of course, the most significant of those relationships was Bob’s representation of Pacific Dunlop Ltd. in connection with its various holdings in the U.S. During Bob’s tenure, he successfully cultivated and took on responsibility for numerous key client relationships which contributed enormously to the growth and prosperity of GCD. Bob also served in many leadership positions with Gardner, Carton, including serving on its Management Committee for 17 years. He was asked by his partners, and agreed, to serve as Chairman of GCD’s Management Committee on two separate occasions, in 1994 and 1995 and from 2001 – 2003.

Bob was a recipient of the James H. Douglas, Jr. award in recognition of his exemplary service to the community. He served on numerous non-profit boards, including as a trustee of St. Patrick High School (in Chicago), a trustee of the Chicago Cultural Foundation and a member of the Advisory Council for the Notre Dame Law School.

Fundamentally, Bob was a man of high principle who always made it his duty to champion our firm’s core values and a culture of mutual respect, civility and utmost integrity at all levels of the organization. He had an immense presence and made an extraordinary contribution to the growth and advancement of Gardner Carton & Douglas. Each of us is challenged in our professional capacity to establish a legacy, to become a person who makes a distinctive mark by contributing to the betterment of the law firm and in the process earn the respect and admiration of his or her fellow partners, colleagues and friends throughout the firm. We are very fortunate that Bob Wilczek did just that.

A memorial service for Bob will be held on Friday, January 24th at the Alice Millar Chapel, which is on the Northwestern campus, 1870 Sheridan Road, Evanston (corner of Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue). The service will begin at 11:00 am.

If you would like to offer notes of condolence to Bob’s wife, Shirley Pfenning, contact abby.raanan@faegredrinker.com for her address.
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