Beer baron John P. “Jack” Glunz, who brought Leinenkugel’s to Chicago, has died at 82. He was the third generation to work for Chicago’s Louis Glunz Beer Inc., one of the nation’s oldest beer distributors.
Mr. Glunz enjoyed a Schlitz last week just before he was admitted to Evanston Hospital, where he died Saturday, at 82, of an infection, according to his son Jerry.
At his wake, “We’ll put a can of Schlitz in there [in the casket] with him,” his son said. “He did enjoy his gin, so we’ll put a bottle of gin in there with him. We’re also going to have a bar set up in the funeral home in one of the other rooms, so, when you visit him, the last round’s on Jack.”
Mr. Glunz was still chief executive officer of the company, a wholesaler for 180 suppliers representing about 850 beers distributed to restaurants, bars and liquor stores.
“He had a passion for the beer business,” his son said.
Dick Leinenkugel, of the Wisconson brewery by the same name, expressed his condolences, thanking Mr. Glunz “for helping me into the beer business.”
In 1984, Leinenkugel dined with Mr. Glunz at a restaurant on Lake-Cook Road. “I asked Jack if he felt Leinenkugel’s had potential for growth in the Chicago market,” he said in an online tribute.
He said Mr. Glunz responded, “Dick, in the last 30 minutes that we have been sitting here, more people have driven by this place than drive through Chippewa Falls in a year.’ ’’
And so, Jerry Glunz said, “We brought Leinenkugel’s into Illinois.”
Young Jack Glunz grew up above the family’s wine store at Division and Wells, now known as The House of Glunz.
As a young man, he went to Loyola Academy and worked for the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company in Milwaukee.
The Glunz family has deep ties to Schlitz. Their company is the oldest Schlitz distributor in the United States.
Jack Glunz’s grandfather, family patriarch Louis Glunz, a German immigrant from Paderborn in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, worked for the namesake of Wacker Drive — Charles H. Wacker — at Wacker & Birk Brewing Co.
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the city’s groundwater was left polluted. To help, Schlitz transported fresh water to Chicago from its Milwaukee brewery, and, as Chicago rebuilt, Wacker asked Louis Glunz to start distributing Schlitz beer in Chicago, Jerry Glunz said. Louis Glunz helped oversee Schlitz sales at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Jack Glunz wound up attending Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. On a blind date, he met his future wife of 52 years, Patricia. They raised their family in Wilmette.
Mr. Glunz enjoyed hunting deer and pheasant and playing golf. He loved his Labrador retrievers Dobby and Kibby. He collected beer steins and wine glasses. His favorite dish was his wife’s tomatoes stuffed with rice and ground beef.
And he loved the place where they’d stay when they visited Marathon, Florida, “so much that we bought the hotel,” his son said. They own Glunz Ocean Beach Hotel & Resort in Key Colony Beach.
Mr. Glunz is also survived by daughters Judy Sidney, Janet Bischoff, Jennifer Faulk and Jane Delaney, sons John and Jim, sisters Patricia Spencer and Barbara Glunz Donovan, brothers Louis and Joseph, 11 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Visitation is 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Donnellan Family Funeral Home in Skokie. A funeral Mass will be said at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Saint Francis Xavier Church in Wilmette. Burial will be at All Saints Cemetery & Mausoleum in Des Plaines.