In Memory of Dr. Ed Baum

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI) lost one of its heroes last week when former pediatric oncologist Dr. Edward S. Baum passed away on October 3 at the age of 83, with his beloved wife Ann at his side.

Dr. Baum was one of our founders and whose values we still live by – a caring doctor who understood that when a child is sick, parents want to stay by their side at all costs. In 1974,when he joined the staff of Children’s Memorial Hospital (now the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago), parents were hard-pressed to manage that, but he knew they needed a place to rest, share a meal, and strengthen themselves so they could focus on the health of their child.

“Dr. Baum was a leader who helped put in motion the robust system of care for children and families that exists today throughout the programs of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) worldwide,” said Holly Buckendahl, RMHC-CNI Chief Executive Officer. Ed joined with the parent of one of his patients, Charlie Marino, and McDonald’s Owner/Operator Bill Chunowitz as founders of the first Ronald McDonald House in Chicago, and the second in the world, in 1977.

After the first House on Deming Place opened, Ed believed that it could happen anywhere. He traveled the country with Jimmy Murray, one of the founders of the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, making hundreds of presentations to medical professionals, parents, McDonald’s Owner/Operators, and other potential donors, who formed the foundation of support for RMHC in cities nationwide and globally. When he and his wife Ann moved to Charlotte, N.C., he formed a similar group of supporters and founded another Ronald McDonald House there in 2011.

Charlie Marino remembers how meaningful it was to be together with Ed and Bill Chunowitz at the RMHC-CNI 40th Anniversary Gala in 2017. “Ed took such wonderful care of our daughter Gage, who survived leukemia and went on to live a full, beautiful life. My wife Gay and I felt we had been given a miracle, and we wanted to pay it back by finding a way to help other families – they needed a little house near the hospital where they could be near their children. Ed said, ‘We beat cancer – we can do this, too.’ And he was right.”

Today, 43 years after our founding, Dr. Baum’s legacy of caring for the entire family of a sick child continues to be felt by the 162 families served each day at our five Ronald McDonald Houses, three Family Rooms, and two Care Mobiles across Chicagoland, and by thousands of families served each day by more than 680 RMHC programs around the world. Collectively, RMHC provides families more than 2.5 million overnight stays each year, helping them save over $930 million in hotel and meal expenses – an incredible impact for a man whose only goal was to help families get better together.

Read more about Dr. Baum’s life and legacy. (PDF 765KB)