The Obit For Tubby Bacon

Robert H. Bacon Jr.

Published in Evanston Review from January 19 to January 25, 2012

Bacon, Robert H., Jr. "Tubby" His family deeply regrets to announce the death of Robert H. Bacon, Jr., on January 9, 2012.

Tall and slender, Mr. Bacon wore with good humor and a mischievous smile his childhood nickname, "Tubby."

A North Shore native, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois in 1952 and served two years as a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army before being put in charge of Bacon's Clipping Bureau by its founder, his father. Under Tubby's leadership, Bacon's Clipping Bureau was transformed from a clipping service begun in his father's garage to an international media company.

Among a variety of directorships he held during his over four decades with Bacon's Clipping Bureau, Tubby was especially proud of his role, from 1964 to 1996, as an organizer and member of the Board of Directors of The Independence Bank of Chicago and Drexel National Bank. He also served as Vice President and a director of Indecorp Inc., the holding company of both banks. He served as President of Sunset Ridge Country Club for eight years and was a long-standing member of Indian Hill Country Club and the University Club of Chicago. He was part owner of the Milwaukee Braves and an underwriting member of Lloyd's of London.

In the early 1960s, a time when cocktails not cabernet were the beverage of choice, the wine bug bit Tubby and never let go. According to his son, Rob, "he bought 20 cases and some books and set out to study the subject." Among the wine appreciation groups Tubby Bacon helped found or presided over were the Commanderie de Bordeaux, the Society of Bacchus, for which he was selected "Mr. Gourmet" for 1987, and the Tastevin Wine Society.

The significance of his contribution to knowledge and appreciation of French wine was recognized by the French government who named him Chevalier du Mérite d'Agricole in 1990. Despite his friendship with such luminaries in the world of food and wine as Julia Child, Count Alexandre de Lur-Saluces, and Marchesi de' Frescobaldi, his support for young chefs, including Mark Baker, Charlie Trotter, and Jean Joho was steadfast.

Tubby's passion for food and wine ran deep and was infectious. Most important, his enthusiasm was not as a collector or as a showman, but for sharing with his family and friends. As Tubby said, "I never sold any of the wines I bought. Either I donated them to charities or I drank them,"

In his retirement years, he spent his summers on the shore in Rhode Island and was the longstanding treasurer of the Weekapaug Chapel Society and a member of the Weekapaug Foundation for Conservation.

Tubby shared his full life with his wife of 42 years, Julie. She was, according to his son Rob, "the rock of his life. Nothing was more important to him than Julie. They went everywhere together, did everything together."

How do you summarize the dynamic life of a man like Tubby Bacon? As his friend and former columnist of the Chicago Tribune, William Rice, noted, "Part Jimmy Stewart, part Jacques Tati's Mr. Hulot, he is a talker, a man of endless enthusiasms whose obvious good will helps him overcome the handicap of being fated to mispronounce even the most rudimentary French phases."

Always unassuming, when asked of his most outstanding achievement, he took a pad and pen and scribbled, "Eagle Scout at 15."

Other survivors include his children Robert IV (Joan), Scott (Alix), Sarah, Craig (Hanne), and 11 grandchildren: Rachel, Francis, Daphne, Chloe, Maris, Gabriella, Henry, Olivia, Francesca, Marina, and Cassandra.

A memorial service will be held at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, located at North Michigan Avenue at Delaware Place, on January 20 at 2pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL 60611 or the Weekapaug Chapel Society, 4 Wawaloam Drive, Weekapaug, RI 02891.