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Betty Quadracci dies at age 75

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Quad/Graphics and Milwaukee Magazine matriarch Betty Ewens Quadracci, 75, died Monday afternoon at her Chenequa home.

She had been in declining health, according to family members.

Betty Quadracci and her late husband, Harry, founded Quad/Graphics in 1971. Under their leadership, the company that began operations with 11 employees in a vacant factory building in Pewaukee grew into a worldwide publishing giant with 25,000 employees at more than 65 printing plants and dozens of support facilities. Its corporate headquarters is in Sussex.

"As a co-founder of this company, Betty shared Harry's passion for creating a company like no other," said Joel Quadracci.

"She provided endless encouragement, even when Harry doubted himself. She suggested he take out a second mortgage on their home to give wings to their shared dream. Truly, Betty is a big reason why Quad/Graphics is here today," her son added.

Quadracci's death will not "create a liquidity event that impacts the company or the Quadracci family," according to a company spokeswoman.

"In addition, the Quadracci family and various family trusts will continue to control the company through of all of the company's high vote class B stock, which constitutes more than 80 percent of the company's total voting power," according to a company news release that announced her death.

Quadracci became publisher of Milwaukee Magazine in 1983, and under her leadership the regional lifestyle magazine won more than 200 state and national awards, including two Gold Medals for General Excellence from the City and Regional Magazine Association. In 2012, she was inducted into the Milwaukee Press Club's Media Hall of Fame.

A member of the Milwaukee Art Museum board of trustees for many years, she and her husband spearheaded, with a $10 million matching donation from Quad/Graphics, the fundraising drive in 1997 to build an major addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The unique design of the Quadracci Pavilion by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava has become a widely recognized symbol of the City of Milwaukee.

She is also credited with helping launch the Waukesha Head Start program in 1968, thought to be the oldest continually operating Head Start program in the country.

She received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., in 1961 and attended the University of Fribourg in Fribourg, Switzerland. She was one of the first trained Montessori teachers in the United States and helped establish the Waukesha Montessori School in 1964, according to a company news release.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Harry, and is survived by her four children; Richard, Kathryn, Joel, and Elizabeth, 10 grandchildren and five siblings.

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