Quadracci made a difference

The community is mourning the loss of philanthropist, publisher and business executive Betty Ewens Quadracci, who passed away at her home in Chenequa at the age of 75.


Quadracci co-founded Sussex-based Quad/Graphics Inc., along with her late husband, Harry.

“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, who is chairman, president and chief executive officer 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 husband. 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.”

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

Milwaukee Art Museum director Daniel Keegan issued the following statement about the passing of Quadracci: “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.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele issued the following statement: “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.”

Milwaukee Magazine will continue to be led by Linda Lundeen, who succeeded Quadracci as publisher in October, and editor Kurt Chandler.

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