The Polk brothers are gone, as is the retail empire that bore their name. But the brothers continue to play a part in the life of Chicago that goes way beyond the plastic lighted Santas they used to give away at Christmas and the "let's-make-a-deal" memories of generations of shoppers.
The retailer lives on as the Polk Bros. Foundation. With assets of $145 million, it is the sixth-largest private foundation in Chicago.
"The focus is Chicago," said foundation President Sandra P. Guthman, a daughter of Samuel Polk, one of the retail business' founders. "They felt this is where they earned their money-in the Chicago area-and this is where it should go back."