Milwaukee publisher Betty Quadracci has died at 75

WAUKESHA COUNTY (WITI) — The Waukesha County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday, December 9th has confirmed Betty Quadracci has died.

The Medical Examiner’s Office was notified of Quadracci’s death around 3:20 p.m. Monday.

A cause of death has not been released.

Quadracci was the co-founder of Quad/Graphics, a philanthropist and long-time publisher of Milwaukee Magazine.

Quad/Graphics on Monday confirmed Quadracci’s passing at the age of 75. She passed at her Wisconsin home, surrounded by family members and close friends.

“As you can imagine, today is a very difficult and sad day for us, but also one of celebration as we commemorate my mother’s very accomplished life,” said her son Joel Quadracci, Chairman, President & CEO of Quad/Graphics. “She passed away peacefully and we take comfort in knowing that she is now in Heaven with my father Harry.”

Recognized as the matriarch of Quad/Graphics, Betty Quadracci co-founded the Company in 1971 with her late husband, Harry V. Quadracci.

The company started operations in a vacant factory in Pewaukee with a single printing press and just 11 employees.

Today, Quad/Graphics is a leading global printer and multichannel media integrator with 25,000 employees worldwide at 65-plus printing plants and dozens of support facilities.

“As a co-founder of this company, Betty shared Harry’s passion for creating a company like no other,” Joel Quadracci said. “She provided endless encouragement – even when Harry doubted himself. She suggested he take out a second mortgage on their home to give wings to their shared dream. Truly, Betty is a big reason why Quad/Graphics is here today.”

During Quad/Graphics’ early years Betty held many roles. In 1985, Betty founded Quad/Creative, a graphic design firm now known as Quad/Graphics Creative Solutions.

In 2002 she became a member of Quad/Graphics’ Board of Directors.

Betty also served as the President of the Windhover Foundation, a philanthropic organization funded by the Quadracci family.

Betty was devoted to the Milwaukee community and Southeastern Wisconsin, making her mark in publishing, the arts and education, and other philanthropic endeavors.

She became publisher of Milwaukee Magazine in 1983 and later was named president of the award-winning monthly publication.

During her tenure of almost 30 years, the monthly publication garnered more than 200 state and national awards, including two Gold Medals for General Excellence from the City and Regional Magazine Association and a Best Editorial Gold Medal for a publisher’s letter written by Betty entitled “The First Amendment Starts Here.”

In 2012 she was inducted into the Milwaukee Press Club’s Media Hall of Fame.

Betty was well-known as a champion of the arts, serving on the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Board of Trustees for many years.

In 1997, she and Harry spearheaded a $10 million matching donation from Quad/Graphics to kick off fundraising for a major addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum – the Quadracci Pavilion.

Designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2001, the pavilion has become a widely recognized symbol of Milwaukee.

Betty received a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., in 1961 and attended the University of Fribourg in Fribourg, Switzerland.

Betty was one of the first trained Montessori teachers in the United States and helped establish the Waukesha Montessori School in 1964. She also helped launch the Waukesha Head Start program in 1968, now the oldest continually operating Head Start program in the United States.

Betty is survived by her four children – Richard, Kathryn, Joel and Elizabeth – 10 grandchildren and her five siblings.

As was true in all facets of her life, Betty’s estate planning was thoughtful and thorough, with the continuity of Quad/Graphics a key focus. As such, her passing will not create a liquidity event that impacts the company or the Quadracci family.

In addition, the Quadracci family and various family trusts will continue to control the company through ownership of all of the company’s high vote class B stock, which constitutes more than 80 percent of the company’s total voting power.

Chad Bauman, Managing Director of the Milwaukee Repatory Theater says Quadracci was involved with the organization for more than three decades. The Quadracci family is responsible for the millions in funding allowing millions of Wisconsinites and visitors over the years to experience the kinds of art she treasured so dearly.

“Anywhere you go in this city, you see her love of the arts. Even just a couple weeks ago, she was here with us for Ragtime. Not a day goes by that I don’t walk in this theater and feel her impact on Milwaukee and specifically, on The Rep. She believed that the arts could change the community,” Bauman said.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released the following statement about the passing of Betty Quadracci.

“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend, Betty Quadracci. Since moving to Milwaukee two decades ago, I had the privilege of working with her many times to support the many great causes in this community we both love.

Betty’s generosity was never just about her checkbook, she was always willing to roll up her sleeves and get involved. She was also never afraid to speak out when she thought something was unfair or unjust.  For both of those qualities and many more, Milwaukee is a better place.”

Dan Keegan, the Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, released the following statement:

“We are truly saddened by this news. 

Betty, and Harry, along with the Quadracci family have played such an enormous role in the life and success of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Betty’s leadership and influence on our entire community is immeasurable. Without her vision, the Milwaukee Art Museum would not exist as it does today. The Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum, now the symbol of the city, ensures that her legacy will continue for generations.    

Betty provided over 26 years of service to the Museum as a member of the Board of Trustees.  She is one of only two board members that have been designated as “Trustee Emeritus,” due to her high level of involvement and philanthropic support. 

We ask that Milwaukee residents remember her and the Quadracci family in your thoughts and prayers.”

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