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R. Scott Falk, Humanities Festival chairman, dies at age 55

Falk also led the northern Illinois chapter of the American Red Cross

R. Scott Falk
R. Scott Falk was chairman of the board of the Chicago Humanities Festival and also led the northern Illinois chapter of the American Red Cross.
Sun-Times Media

R. Scott Falk, a top Chicago lawyer and the chairman of the Chicago Humanities Festival board, is dead at 55. Falk died suddenly May 17 while on a business trip in New York, according to Donnellan Family Funeral Services and his former law firm.

Falk was a widely recognized top legal mind in his area of expertise — mergers and corporate acquisitions and governance. At the same time, he immersed himself in his passion for the humanities.

Despite his busy job as a partner at the Chicago branch of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Falk’s volunteer position as chair of the Chicago Humanities Festival was central to his work life, according to Phillip Bahar, the CHF’s executive director.

Falk also led the northern Illinois chapter of the American Red Cross and served on the Leadership Council at Harvard Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1989 and continued to give back in financial aid as an alumnus.

The Chicago Humanities Festival holds around 130 events each year at venues across Chicagoland, including two renowned festivals in the fall and spring, according to its website. The events celebrate ideas and art and draws creators and thinkers from all over the world.

In the more than ten years that Falk had been on the board, he’d been an integral voice in shaping the direction of the CHF’s programming, Bahar said.

“He’s been a participant and a fan and a passionate supporter of the festival almost from the very beginning of our existence,” Bahar said.

“It’s hard to imagine not seeing Scott’s jovial face and quick smile walking the halls in the Chicago office, but I take comfort in knowing that he leaves an incredible legacy behind,” Jeffrey C. Hammes, chairman of Kirkland’s Global Management Executive Committee, said in a statement.

R. Scott Falk
R. Scott Falk at a Chicago Humanities Festival event.
Courtesy of Chicago Humanities Festival and Jaclyn Simpson

Bill Fraumann, a colleague of Falk’s at Kirkland and chair emeritus of the CHF, said he was an insatiably curious man.

“What I liked most about Scott is that he never agreed with me, and I loved talking with him about anything and everything with him,” Fraumann wrote in a statement.

Falk is survived by his wife Kim, their two children, Meredith and Jack, his siblings, his nieces and nephews and his grandpup, Socrates.

Donnellan Family Funeral Services is handling the memorial services, which haven’t been announced yet.

Falk’s family asks that instead of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago or to the Chicago Humanities Festival, asking that “In memory of R. Scott Falk” be included in the memo line.