Martyl Reinsdorf, wife of Bulls-White Sox owner Jerry, dies at 85

  • Martyl Reinsdorf

    Martyl Reinsdorf

Updated 6/28/2021 8:15 PM

Martyl Reinsdorf, spouse of White Sox and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, died peacefully Monday afternoon following a long illness and surrounded by family at her home in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

The Sox announced the passing late Monday afternoon.


Martyl Reinsdorf, 85, was an acclaimed fine arts creator of colorful Cloisonné jewelry. She designed five of the six Bulls NBA championship rings, was involved with creating the other, and designed the White Sox World Series championship ring in 2005.

Reinsdorf also was appreciated semi-anonymously by children throughout the world as "Grandma Martyl," creating and distributed over one million coloring books, crayons, markers and toys to hospitals, orphanages and shelters across the world, including to survivors of Hurricane Katrina, residents of Ronald McDonald Houses, patients at Lurie Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and Phoenix Children's Hospital.

The customized books and art packets originated in 1999 from coloring pages designed by Reinsdorf for her grandchildren.

"The very first coloring book I did was when my granddaughter, Jenny, called and asked me to design a coloring book for her," she said several years ago. "After a few weeks all her cousins and friends and my other grandchildren asked for more coloring books. They all loved the books so much I decided to find other children who also might enjoy the books. I decided if I could make a few sick children in the hospital happy, it would be a worthwhile way to share the books I was designing."

"My mother had such a heart for children," said Michael Reinsdorf, the Bulls' president and chief operating officer. "The joy she brought through her coloring books made me so proud to be her son. As a father, I loved seeing her being such an involved grandmother with my children. They had so many shared interests and spent time together developing computer programs, creating costumes and starting her coloring book program. These are memories that we all treasure as a family."

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Born in Denver, Colo., on March 4, 1936, Martyl was the daughter of Milton and Vivette (Ravel) Rifkin. The family moved to Chicago in 1944 where Reinsdorf attended Sutherland Elementary School and Morgan Park High School before majoring in Japanese and Chinese History at George Washington University, where she met and married Jerry Reinsdorf in 1956.

She worked for the Defense Department at the Pentagon while in Washington, D.C., and then for the Department of Agriculture once the couple moved to Chicago.

Reinsdorf had four children, daughter Susan, sons David (deceased), Michael (Nancy) and Jonathan (Holly), and nine grandchildren.


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