Donald Ratner, a lifelong Chicagoan who was a leading figure in Chicago business and philanthropy, passed away Jan. 19, 2020 due to complications from prostate cancer. He is survived by his husband, Dr. Bruce Gober, with whom he spent 50 years, as well as a brother, Larry Ratner, and a cousin, Susan Eisner.
Born at Michael Reese Hospital in 1947, he grew up in Jeffrey Manor and attended Bowen High School and studied at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He then earned an MBA at University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. During his long career, Ratner held many positions, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Terra Foundation for American Art, a position he held from 1999 until 2015. He also served as CFO and vice president of government relations of Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and worked for many years at Arthur Andersen.
One of the leading figures in Chicago philanthropy, Ratner was known for his tireless support of numerous arts organizations. A lifelong music, art and theater lover, he served on the boards of Steppenwolf Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago ( serving as treasurer for 18 years, during which the dance company made tremendous progress as an institution ). He also volunteered for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fine Arts Building Foundation and Porchlight Music Theatre. Upon retirement, he volunteered to head a pilot project at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business to help struggling nonprofits streamline its back offices.
"Don's impact on the cultural vibrancy of Chicago is immeasurable and lasting," said Elizabeth Glassman, president and CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art. "Don never shied away from large, complex projects that dramatically impacted an organization's ability to grow. This was certainly the case at the Terra as, among other important accomplishments, Don spearheaded the sale of our Michigan Avenue real estate, a multi-partner deal that brought much to the foundation's capacity for future grantmaking. Don was a man of many passions including opera, Broadway musicals and travel. Next time you visit the Lyric, look for Bruce and know that Don is there with him. Don's friends and colleagues know that he lived fully. He is a man who will be missed by all."