Gene Saffold ’76

9 October 2012

Class: 1976

Major: Economics

Residence: Chicago, IL

Deceased: October 8, 2012


Born on: 02/08/1955

Passed on: 10/2012

Gene Saffold enjoyed a 30-year career in investment banking and was Chicago’s chief financial officer under former Mayor Richard Daley from 2009-11.

Mr. Saffold, 57, of Chicago, died Monday, Oct. 8, of complications from heart surgery, according to his assistant of 15 years, Yolanda Quintana.

In addition to holding the chief financial officer’s post under Daley, Mr. Saffold was appointed by the mayor to Chicago’s school board in 1995. In a statement, Daley described Mr. Saffold as “a wonderful human being” and praised his distinguished career in finance.

“He was always innovative and forthright in his decisions,” Daley said in the statement. “He was a great adviser to me, but more than that, a marvelous ally and friend who will be deeply missed.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement that Saffold “showed a steadfast commitment to the city he loved.”

“Gene’s example of civic duty and service endures. Those who were lucky enough to call Gene a friend will never forget his character and integrity, his gentle bearing and quick wit,” Emanuel said.

Mr. Saffold grew up on Chicago’s South Side. He was the youngest of four children and graduated from Harlan High School in Roseland, going on to get a degree from Carleton College in Minnesota.

His first job was at First Chicago Bank, which became Bank One. While working, he continued his studies, receiving a master’s of business administration degree from the University of Chicago.

Mr. Saffold went on to become a managing director at Smith Barney from 1985 to 2002. He returned to Bank One as the national head of public finance in 2002. After the bank was bought by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mr. Saffold moved to New York in 2005, returning three years later and staying with JPMorgan Chase until Daley asked him to join the city’s staff in 2009, Quintana said.

Most recently, he was working as an independent consultant, Quintana said.

Mr. Saffold also was on the board of the Erikson Institute, WTTW Public Television, Steppenwolf Theatre and Congo Square Theatre.

Jessica Saffold, Mr. Saffold’s eldest daughter, said her father cared deeply about the advancement of African-Americans and went out of his way to mentor young people. He was also immensely proud of Chicago and made sure his children felt the same strong identity with the city.

“He told me there are two things a father can give his children — roots and wings,” his daughter said. “Chicago was his homeland, a place he truly adored.”

Quintana said Mr. Saffold was a down-to-earth, humble man.

“He never took himself too seriously and was always willing to help,” Quintana said. “He was a person easy to befriend and a wonderful person to work for.”

Mr. Saffold, who was divorced, is also survived by another daughter, Christine; a son, Nathan; and a sister, Andrea Kerr.

Services are planned for 9 a.m. Thursday at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.

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