Gilbert N. Stein, 97, of Springfield, Illinois passed away on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Regency with family members by his side. He was born on December 3, 1913 in Trivoli Township, Illinois, the son of Charles F. and Olive R. Stein. He married Frances Gustine Stein on April 6, 1937; she preceded him in death on August 6, 2002 at age 84.
Stein’s dynamic career began on his parent’s farm near Canton, IL. As a high school student he bought raw milk from his father and sold it to Canton households. By his senior year, he was delivering more than 200 quarts a day, before and after school. In 1936 he opened the Goldenrod Dairy, a pasteurizing and bottling plant in Canton. Seeking better opportunities in a larger town, he bought the Golden Cream Dairy, in Galesburg, IL in 1941.
His 65 year association with Dairy Queen began in 1946 when he opened his first store in Normal, Illinois. As a pioneer in the company this was the ninth Dairy Queen store. Having acquired the Dairy Queen franchise for 63 counties in central and southern Illinois, he moved his family to Springfield. Ultimately he added DQ franchises in many northern Illinois counties, most of Missouri and Maricopa County Arizona. In 1962, Stein and four partners bought the international and national franchises of DQ and formed International Dairy Queen of which he served as the first president.
Stein was given an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at UIS in 2005. Honored by many business and civic groups over the years, Stein was often recognized for his ground breaking and innovative business initiatives. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church, Illini Country Club, Sangamo Club, Island Bay Yacht Club, Panther Creek Country Club, Springfield Art Association and Dairyman’s Country Club, Boulder Junction, Wisconsin.
He was an avid fisherman, hunter and enjoyed extensive travel. He enjoyed gardening and caring for his spectacular rose beds. He was a NASCAR racing fan. His time in Scottsdale, AZ with family and friends was greatly enjoyed.
He is survived by his daughter Phyllis (George) Fairchild of Springfield and son Charles “Ed” (Bonnie) Stein of Oji, California. Eight Grandchildren Shawn Andrews (companion Clay Crocker), New Berlin, IL; Leslie Casper, Springfield, IL; Wendy (Jeff) Grace, Henderson, NV; G. Matthew (Stephanie) Fairchild, Chesterfield, MO; Jill (Mike) Luna, Rohnert Park, CA; Sarah (Bryan) Albracht, Chatham, IL; Jeff (Carolyn) Stein, Cave Creek, AZ; Melissa (Tim) Alford, Anthem, AZ; and 17 great grandchildren, several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by 4 sisters and 2 brothers.
Memorial gifts can be directed to Lincoln Memorial Gardens, the Gilbert N. Stein and Frances G. Stein Scholarship fund at University of Illinois, Springfield or the charity of the donor’s choice.
Visitation: 5 – 7 p.m., Thursday, May 5 at Staab Funeral Home.
Funeral Ceremony: A private family service will be held Friday, May 6 at Staab Funeral Home. Burial will follow at White Chapel Memorial Garden, Canton, IL.