It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Peter Merlin on April 3, 2017, aged 88. Peter was a former chairman of Gardner Carton & Douglas and a strong and respected leader who propelled the firm forward during a time of great growth and prosperity. Peter joined Gardner Carton on September 20, 1954, having graduated from the University of Michigan School of Law in 1953, and having worked for a brief stint at Cahill Gordon & Reindel in New York.
Peter was a highly regarded corporate transactional lawyer who established a thriving international practice over the course of his outstanding 46-year legal career. He served as the primary relationship partner for many of the firm’s key clients, including Illinois Tools Works, Sealed Power Corporation (now SPX Corporation), Aldi Discount Grocery Company, GFTA, and Porsche North America, among many others. Peter served as Chairman of Gardner Carton’s Management Committee from 1980 to 1989. After that, he formed and chaired the firm’s international department until his retirement from the partnership in August 2000.
In 1963, Peter became a founding director of the German-American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago and served as its president and then as its chairman over three decades. Peter was also devoted to many civic and charitable activities, including serving for many years on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Horticultural Society and its Botanic Garden (serving as Chairman of its Board from 1972 -1979), the Board of Directors of Benton House, the Board of Lake Forest Country Day School, the Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and as an active member of the Chicago Council of Foreign Relations.
Peter was born in Switzerland and grew up in Liechtenstein where he became a great outdoorsman, a passion he retained throughout his life. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, hiking and golf, and was a collector of Theodore Roosevelt books and memorabilia. One of Peter’s favorite quotes to live by was from Roosevelt’s Wilderness Writings: “The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it.” He accomplished that and so much more.
A private gathering for family and close friends will take place in Colorado later this week to celebrate Peter’s life. Peter will be cremated and his ashes will be released in the mountains near Fort Collins, Colorado, where Peter and his wife Bettina have been living in retirement.