Remembering Jim Mabie

CSOA President Jeff Alexander with Kay and Jim Mabie receive their induction into the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Society — a recognition for those whose cumulative lifetime giving is $1 million or more — in Grainger Ballroom on Oct. 26, 2016.

© Todd Rosenberg Photography

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) notes with sorrow the passing of Jim Mabie, a CSOA Life Trustee, Governing Member, civic leader, philanthropist and devoted supporter of Chicago’s cultural organizations.

Mabie, 85, died Saturday, May 8, surrounded by his loving family. Jim and his wife, Kay Mabie, have been avid CSO concert attendees for over 60 years, and significant supporters of the organization for more than 30 years. Mabie was first elected to the board of trustees in 1995 after serving as a Governing Member since 1989. He twice served as treasurer of the Association and for many years was a member of the Executive, Finance (past chair), Investment, Labor Policy and Joint Musician–Board–Management committees. Jim and Kay Mabie co-chaired a memorable Opening Night Gala in 2001.

“I will be forever grateful for the number of times Jim reached out to me to offer assistance and the conversations we had about music,” said CSOA President Jeff Alexander. “He was completely committed to the CSOA and the arts in general, and he understood their importance to a vibrant and healthy society.”

The Mabies’ philanthropic contributions to the Association have been extremely generous, including a recent major gift to the CSOA’s current Sempre: Always Campaign. In addition to their general support of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, they regularly have made significant annual gifts in support of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. “The Chicago Symphony Chorus is a force of nature, really — a phenomenon of the music world and important to the city,” said the couple in an interview during the Chorus’ 60th anniversary season in 2017-18.

Jim Mabie’s professional career included positions at Marshall Field & Co., A.G. Becker and William Blair. Most recently, he founded the investment and advisory firm Chicago Capital. Mabie applied his business acumen in his service to the CSOA: “He always wanted to make certain the CSOA was well-run, and in the best financial condition possible to support the art form he so loved and the musicians and artists who gave him and Kay so much pleasure over six decades,” wrote Jeff Alexander.

In addition to his success in business, Jim was an extraordinary community volunteer. In addition to serving on the CSOA board, he sat on the boards of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he also served on the Executive Committee, and WFMT-FM and WTTW-Channel 11, where he had served as chair. He previously served on the boards of the Ravinia Festival Association, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Cara Program and the Center for Development Economics Visiting Committee for Williams College, his alma mater. He was also on the Leadership Council for ProPublica Illinois, served on the board of Northfield Public Schools and as a trustee of the Village of Northfield, and was a life director and past president of Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers. Jim and Kay Mabie were also founders of Chicago High School for the Arts (Chi-Arts), where he was chair of the organization.

A quintessential philanthropist, Jim Mabie will truly be missed. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family sends its most heartfelt condolences to his many colleagues and friends, and especially to his beloved wife Kay, four children and their families, including 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.