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Donald Baumgartner

Living Legends
Paper Machinery Corp.   |  Milwaukee

Businessman and philanthropist Donald Baumgartner founded Milwaukee Shipbuilding Corp. with his father in 1951 to do U.S. Department of Defense work during the Korean War. The company was renamed Paper Machinery Corp. in 1956 and grew to become an international manufacturer of converting machinery for the production of paper cups, paperboard containers and custom packages. In 2016, Baumgartner initiated the company’s transition to 100% employee ownership. Today, he serves as chairman of the board and personally holds patents on machines for manufacturing paper drinking cups.

Among many civic contributions, Baumgartner is past president of the Milwaukee Art Museum’s board of trustees and was instrumental in bringing the Santiago Calatrava addition to fruition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. As chair of the museum’s building committee during that time, Baumgartner worked personally with Calatrava during the construction process.

Baumgartner is a life director of the Florentine Opera Co. He and his wife, Donna, are longtime supporters of the Milwaukee Ballet, giving $10 million for construction of its headquarters in the Historic Third Ward. The Baumgartners have also sponsored Milwaukee Film programming. Donald Baumgartner is a member of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

Baumgartner’s many adventures – from his crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a yacht to scuba diving in Australia and the Maldives to participating in Formula One races in Monaco and Brazil – are captured in a biography written by Milwaukee author Kurt Chandler, “With the Wind at His Back: The Charmed and Charitable Life of Donald Baumgartner.”

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