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President Joe Biden on Herb Kohl's passing: 'Living proof of the American Dream'

Former U.S. Senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl died at the age of 88 on Dec. 27, 2023.
Joe Biden, Herb Kohl
Posted at 11:33 AM, Dec 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-28 13:03:46-05

MILWAUKEE — President Joe Biden released a statement Thursday following the death of former U.S. Senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl. Kohl died at the age of 88 on Wednesday, Dec. 27 after a brief illness.

"Herb Kohl was one of the finest people I’ve served with – a kind and principled man of integrity and character, one of Wisconsin’s greatest-ever advocates, and a dear friend," President Biden began his statement.

Biden called Kohl "living proof of the American Dream" as he noted his upbringing as the son of immigrants and how he rose among the ranks in his career beginning as a bag boy in his father's market to building an iconic retail chain.

Kohl, who grew up in the Sherman Park neighborhood in Milwaukee, leaves behind a legacy filled with milestones as a former U.S. senator, Milwaukee Bucks owner, and founder of the Kohl's department stores chain.

Biden said in part, "As the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, he helped to mold future world champions, and made sure the NBA team stayed put in his cherished hometown. As a Senator, he always chose work over the limelight and responsibility over ego, serving not for credit, but for the common good."

Biden and Kohl served in the Senate together for 20 years, including passing a gun safety bill, boosting funding for community policing, and supporting juvenile justice programs to reduce youth crime.

"Time and again, he fought for farmers and food safety; for affordable health care, childcare, education, and prescription drugs; staying committed to the hard work of compromise on behalf of the American people," Biden said.

You can read President Biden's full statement below:

"Herb Kohl was one of the finest people I’ve served with – a kind and principled man of integrity and character, one of Wisconsin’s greatest-ever advocates, and a dear friend.

As a businessman, Herb was living proof of the American Dream. The son of immigrants, he rose from his first job as a bag boy in his father’s market to build an iconic retail chain. As the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, he helped to mold future world champions, and made sure the NBA team stayed put in his cherished hometown. As a Senator, he always chose work over the limelight and responsibility over ego, serving not for credit, but for the common good.

Herb and I served together in the Senate for 20 years, including on the Judiciary Committee. We worked together to pass the most significant gun safety bill in history; to boost funding for community policing; and to support juvenile justice programs that helped to significantly reduce juvenile crime, while giving millions of young people a better shot at life. Throughout his career, Herb was unafraid to stand up to the business community that he’d come from, seeking to level the playing field for workers and make our economy more efficient and fair. Time and again, he fought for farmers and food safety; for affordable health care, childcare, education, and prescription drugs; staying committed to the hard work of compromise on behalf the American people. Above all, he cared about the people he served – his employees, his customers, his constituents, and his country.

In all our years of friendship and time spent serving his beloved Wisconsin, Herb’s humility was always an immense source of strength – for him, and for all of us blessed to know him. He embodied the simple truth that we are a great nation because we are a good people.

Jill and I send our condolences to his family, his friends, and the people of Wisconsin. Herb Kohl was the best of who we are as Americans."


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