Wayne Whalen

Wayne Whalen.

Wayne Walter Whalen was born in Savanna, Illinois on August 22, 1939 to Leo and Esther (Yackley) Whalen. The oldest of five, Wayne grew up in Hanover, Illinois on his family's mallard duck farm, Whistling Wings. Wayne's early jobs, beginning at the age of nine, included detasseling corn and shining shoes. He was the first in his family to go to college, graduating as a member of the United States Air Force Academy’s third class in 1961. While serving for three years as a missile launch officer, he would emerge from the silo at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas to teach high school math on his days off.

Wayne graduated from Northwestern University Law School in 1967. Believing he could help end the Cold War, Wayne was a summer intern at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Washington, D.C. However, after spending his next summer in corporate law, Wayne joined Mayer, Brown & Platt upon graduation and practiced there until 1984. His commitment to the rule of law extended to serving as a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention; serving as one of the first members of the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board; assisting in both of Harold Washington’s campaigns for Mayor of Chicago; and working with others to organize credentials challenges during the 1968 and 1972 Democratic National Conventions that eventually culminated in an argument before the United States Supreme Court. In 1984, Wayne and five partners founded the Chicago office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He served as the managing partner for 25 years. During that time, he proudly represented an eclectic group of clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to South Side lottery winners providing expert legal advice, strategy, and judgment. In keeping with his commitment to the common good, Wayne also served on numerous boards including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation, the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy, and the United States Air Force Academy Endowment.

Wayne met the love of his life, Paula Wolff, at the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention. Surprising everyone who knew them, they eloped on the original Earth Day at the Springfield courthouse. Married for over 52 years, they have five spectacular children and eleven even better grandchildren whom Wayne took incredible care of and loved dearly.

Wayne was an avid reader who loved to share books with his friends and took great pleasure in watching his Chicago Bears. Despite all of his work and civic commitments, he rarely missed a game, meet or concert featuring his children. He enjoyed snorkeling, scuba diving, bird watching, and taking serious naps while on vacation.

Wayne, who died at home on June 20, 2022, is survived by Paula, Amanda Whalen (Jim Stewart), Clementine Whalen (Daniel Lieberman), Antonia Whalen (Phil Fager), Nathaniel Whalen (Molly Greenwood), Daniel Hodges, and eleven grandchildren. He is also survived by his siblings Marianne Murphy, William Whalen, and Catharine Eisenhofer. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Barbara Houseman, and an infant daughter Cordelia Whalen.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Wayne may be made to the University of Chicago Medical Center for Parkinson’s/Progressive Supranuclear Palsy research (http://giving.uchicago.edu/wayne-whalen) or the Lincoln Presidential Foundation (https://www.lincolnpresidential.org/giving/).

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