Robert Lurie 

Bob Lurie:  A Professional Legacy

(1942 to 1990)

In 1959, Bob Lurie and Sam Zell met as members of the same pledge class of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at the University of Michigan. Bob was studying Engineering, and Sam was majoring in Political Science. In his junior year, Sam began his real estate career by managing apartments for students off campus. Bob expressed an interest, and ultimately joined Sam in his business. When Sam left after graduating from Law School, he sold the business to Bob, who then expanded it significantly. As Sam was leaving Ann Arbor, he suggested to Bob if he ever wanted to play on a big field in real estate, that was where Sam was headed, and Bob was always welcome to join him.

Three years later, Bob followed Sam to Chicago and together they built what today is Equity Group Investments and its many offshoots. Bob brought the discipline and attention to detail of an engineer to a business that Sam was expanding across the country, and they quickly found that the equation was truly a one-plus-one-equals-eight. The two men shared an appreciation for risk, a nose for the strategic direction, and a complete and unequivocal trust in each other.

Whether at work or at home, Bob had a casual, laid-back manner. He enjoyed the outdoors and puttering in his basement workshop, and he rarely missed dinners with his family. He was incisive, introspective, and quirky, with a self-deprecating sense of humor and an insatiable intellectual curiosity.

Bob was 48 when he died. He was survived by his wife and six children. At the time, he was president of Equity Group Investments and of Great American Management Investment. He was also part owner and member of the Board of Directors of both the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox. Since then, his wife, Ann Lurie, has led a major philanthropic effort that reflects the couple's mutual goal to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to a broad spectrum of causes. Among the donations the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Family Foundation has made in honor of Bob’s memory are:

  • The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University;
  • The Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center at Northwestern University;
  • The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Biomedical Engineering Building at University of Michigan;
  • The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower and the Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center at University of Michigan’s Engineering Campus; and, most recently,
  • An historic $100 million gift to the Children’s Memorial Hospital, which transitioned into The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. The donation was the largest charitable investment received in the hospital's 125-year history, and one of the largest hospital gifts in U.S. history.

Further, Bob’s love of learning and achievement are reflected in the University of Michigan’s Zell/Lurie Entrepreneurial Center, and in the University of Pennsylvania’s Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton. His influence can also still be felt in the culture he and Sam created at Equity Group Investments – in its passion for challenge and in its open-door environment, where people say what they mean and care about one another.

And, of course, Bob can still always be found in Sam’s stories.

“Bob was a business partner, a brother and a best friend. There have been many times over the years that I’ve wished I could talk to him. I'd want to show him what we’ve created here.

I know he’d be proud.”

Sam Zell

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