Roger R. Fross, lawyer involved in historic Chicago patronage case, has died

Editor's note: This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Roger R. Fross' wife's name. The correct spelling is Madelon.

A lawyer involved in a historic legal battle over political patronage in Cook County and Chicago has died.

Roger R. Fross, 80, of Chicago, also served as longtime attorney for Paddock Publications, the Daily Herald's parent company. He died Feb. 16.

A graduate of DePauw University in Indiana, Fross earned his law degree at the University of Chicago Law School.

Fross worked with Lord, Bissell & Brook in Chicago, which became Locke Lord firm. He was a managing partner of Lord, Bissell & Brook in the 1980s.

Fross was "an outstanding and respected lawyer," a statement on the Locke Lord website reads. "We are grateful for the important role he played at our firm and the impact he had on so many of us."

In his most notable case, Fross was an attorney for the plaintiff in Shakman v. Democratic Organization of Cook County, a challenge of the notorious political patronage in Cook County and Chicago.

Beginning with the lawsuit's filing in 1969, the decades-long fight led to procedural changes for the hiring and firing of public employees and rules that have since become known as the Shakman decrees.

Fross also handled mergers and acquisitions, financing, business successions and general corporate matters, according to his Locke Lord biography. He counted Paddock Publications among his clients for many years.

"Many of us worked closely with Roger through years of our company's growth and change," said Douglas K. Ray, Paddock's publisher and CEO. "He was a steady hand, a smart and insightful attorney and confidant."

Fross was a member of many community groups. He chaired the Joyce Foundation, a nonpartisan group working toward racial equity and economic mobility for people in the Great Lakes region.

He also served with the Chicago Metro History Fair student program and the South East Chicago Commission, which promotes economic development in Hyde Park and other lakefront communities.

Fross' survivors include: his wife, Madelon; a brother, G. Gerald Fross; a son, Oliver O. Fross; and two grandsons, Miro M. Fross and Luca L. Fross.

Contributions in Fross' memory may be made to: the Community Foundation for Oceana County, P.O. Box 902, Pentwater, Michigan, 49449; or to the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave., Chicago, 60615.

Burial will be private.

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