Former US Sen. Herb Kohl remembered for his love of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Former U.S. senator and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks Herb Kohl was remembered Friday for his love of both the city where he grew up and the state of Wisconsin at a memorial service attended by sports, political and business leaders.

Kohl, 88, died Dec. 27 after a brief illness.

Speakers, including former President Barack Obama’s strategist David Axelrod, joked that the spotlight-shunning Kohl had ordered up a snowstorm to dampen attendance at his own memorial held at the Fiserv Forum where the Bucks play.

“I’m not here to mourn Herb,” Axelrod said. “I am here to celebrate this extraordinary life and to say how grateful I am that he was part of my life.”

Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig spoke of his lifelong friendship with Kohl. The two met as 6-year-olds in grade school in Milwaukee and met weekly for lunch up until his death. Selig talked of Kohl’s devotion to Milwaukee, most famously demonstrated by his purchase of the Bucks franchise in 1985 to keep it from leaving the city.

“His only goal was to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee and he sacrificed willingly to do so,” Selig said.

Kohl sold the Bucks in 2014 and contributed $100 million toward construction of Fiserv Forum. In 2018, the Bucks won their first NBA title since 1971.

Kohl’s nephew, Dan Kohl, said his uncle had a knack for remembering not only the names of Kohl’s employees but their spouses and children as well. Over his 24 years as a senator, Kohl never boasted about his accomplishments, Dan Kohl said.

Kohl’s greatest legacy will be the scholarships he gave to teachers and children across the state, which were just some of his numerous philanthropic efforts, Dan Kohl said.

Kohl never married or had kids, but Dan Kohl said that dozens of his relatives from across the country and from Canada and Israel came to Milwaukee for the memorial.

Other attendees included U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet, state Rep. Greta Neubauer, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

Kohl served in the Senate from 1988 to 2012 and was succeeded by Baldwin.