Irving L. Wein, a lifelong Chicago businessman and active member of the city’s Jewish community, died of cancer on July 12 at his River North home. He was 76.
Wein grew up in Hyde Park on Chicago’s South Side and at age 16 enrolled in the University of Chicago. He spent three years in the U.S. Army in Europe, landing in France shortly after D-Day as a member of the 8th Armored Division. Wein also studied at the Sorbonne in France and the University of Geneva in Switzerland.
He returned to Chicago to finish his degree and join the family business, the Clinton Watch Co., which his father founded in 1922. The company became the Benrus Watch Co., then Hampden Corp., with Wein as chairman. He also served as chairman of Fantasy Diamond Corp.
Wein was a former board member of both the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee executive committee, and he worked with many other Jewish organizations. As general campaign chairman for the Jewish United Fund in 1998, he helped raise $60.3 million in Chicago.
Wein is survived by his wife, Zahava; son Joe; daughter Susan Bernhardt; sisters Miriam Graham and Esther Sobotka; and four grandchildren.