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John W. Baird, Real Estate Developer, Dies at 98

The Evanston native led Baird & Warner for decades and also advocated for open space and landmark preservation.

John W. Baird, the Evanston native who led his family's real estate business, died Friday at the age of 98 after suffering a stroke eight days earlier, according to the Chicago Tribune. He'd been in fine health until then.

Baird reluctantly joined Baird & Warner in 1946 after getting his MBA from Harvard and serving as an Army captain in World War II, the Tribune obituary said. He became president in 1963, passing the title along to his own son in 1991. He continued to serve as chairman of the board until recently.

Baird's legacy extends beyond traditional real estate to open spaces and landmark preservation in the city. He was a member of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks for 40 years, as well as serving on the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, the Trust for Public Land and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Tribune reports. And he co-founded the nonprofit community garden organization NeighborSpace.

He was also a pioneer for social justice in real estate and was a vocal advocate for ending racial discrimination in home buying while leader of the Metropolitan, the Tribune reports. He resigned from the Chicago Real Estate Board when his views clashed with its stance on racial issues.

Click here to read the full Tribune obituary. 

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