Rocky Wirtz, the notable owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and a pivotal figure in Chicago’s business and philanthropic community, has passed away at the age of 70.
Who was Rocky Wirtz?
W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz was not just the principal owner of the Chicago Blackhawks; he was a passionate businessman with a keen acumen that spanned beyond the hockey arena. He oversaw the vast Wirtz Corporation family holdings. Yet, even with all his accomplishments and duties, he always prioritized family, which was evident in the heartfelt statement released by his son, Danny Wirtz, and the Wirtz Corporation. Danny remembered him as a “loving father, a devoted husband to Marilyn,” and someone whose passing “leaves a huge hole in the hearts of many.”
What is the Wirtz Corporation?
The Wirtz Corporation is a conglomerate that includes real estate, insurance, banking, and sports enterprises among its holdings. Beyond the Chicago Blackhawks, it is recognized as North America’s third-largest wholesale beverage company. The management and growth of these diverse business segments is a testament to the business acumen of the Wirtz family, particularly Rocky, who had been instrumental in its continued success.
How did Rocky impact the Chicago Blackhawks?
Rocky’s tenure as the owner saw a complete transformation of the Blackhawks franchise. Under his leadership, the team clinched three Stanley Cup Championships. He was also the visionary behind the multimillion-dollar United Center campus expansion and the development of the Fifth Third Arena on Chicago’s West Side. These infrastructural developments not only elevated the team’s status but also provided Chicago with state-of-the-art sporting facilities.
What legacy does Rocky leave behind?
Rocky’s legacy is multifaceted. On the business front, he was known for his sharp wit, enduring loyalty, and humility. Many recount that he treated everyone – from fans at the United Center to dignitaries and employees – with kindness and respect. He was also a philanthropist at heart, actively giving back to the community through the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, impacting thousands of families. The vast legacy of generosity and philanthropy that Rocky leaves behind is testament to his larger-than-life persona.
What’s the history of the Blackhawks’ ownership?
The Blackhawks’ ownership is deeply intertwined with the Wirtz family lineage. Arthur Wirtz, Rocky’s grandfather, initiated the family’s association with the team by purchasing a stake in 1950 and later acquiring majority ownership in 1966. Upon Arthur’s passing in 1983, the reins of the team went to Bill Wirtz, Rocky’s father. Rocky inherited the ownership after the death of his father in 2007 and has since then left an indelible mark on the franchise’s history.
In the wake of such a profound loss, the hockey world, Chicago community, and countless individuals touched by Rocky’s generosity mourn the passing of a true legend.