Edward Ross, an industrialist and real estate maven who partnered with Jerrold Wexler to develop or acquire landmarks that included the Drake Hotel and the Palmolive Building on Michigan Avenue, died last month at his Chicago home. He was 96.
His daughter Nanci Agostini said he suffered from heart ailments but continued to work until a few days before his death.
Ross and Wexler, who died in 1992 at age 68, teamed up in the late 1950s on construction of the Executive House Hotel at 71 E. Wacker Drive.
In 1960 they partnered to buy control of what became Jupiter Industries, which evolved into a manufacturing, gas distribution, transportation and construction conglomerate with $270 million in revenue in 1982. It included Jupiter Realty and a mechanical contracting firm founded by Ross’ father, Charles.
Jupiter, whose holdings included the office building at 676 St. Clair St. and residential buildings Outer Drive East at 400 E. Randolph St. and McClurg Court Center, constructed the Holiday Inn Chicago City Centre and Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.
A Chicago native who majored in mechanical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Ross “was as much an operating executive as he was a real estate executive,” said Bill Jamison, a former Jupiter Industries president.
Wexler’s death triggered the beginning of Jupiter Industries’ liquidation and in 1996 Ross’ abrupt departure, followed by a court battle between him and Wexler’s heirs over control of the company and its remaining assets.
The litigation was dismissed after a confidential settlement, according to Michael Roche, an attorney who represented Wexler’s son-in-law Jonathan Piser. (Wexler was more broadly known as actress Daryl Hannah’s stepfather.)
Jamison, a co-defendant with Ross in one of the lawsuits, said, “We got paid out basically what we were owed. Wexler’s beneficiaries were interested in selling (Jupiter), not operating it.”
Jupiter Realty survived the liquidation, and Ross stayed on as vice chairman until 2005, when he formed a real estate investment company. He also was part of the group led by the late Jim Tyree that owned the Sun-Times between 2009 and 2011.