William Brandt, Jr. and Patrice Bugelas-Brandt


In Memoriam William A. Brandt, Jr.

September 5, 1949 - May 28, 2023

William “Bill” Arthur Brandt, Jr. passed away on May 28th at the age of 73, surrounded by family. Bill was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 5th, 1949, to William Sr. and Joan Brandt. Always on the move, he considered himself a man of many homes, and loved the nomadic lifestyle his work required as he grew his company, Development Specialists, Inc. (DSI) into a leading corporate restructuring consultancy with offices around the country.

An accomplished athlete, he was an alternate to the 1964 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo – but by his own account the entire swim team would have had to go missing before he would have been put on a plane. Bill received his SCUBA certification in 1969 and used that skill to dive for municipal rescue services while an undergrad. Later, in college, he worked as a door-to-door salesman for Kirby Vacuum Cleaners and once won the salesman-of-the-year award from the local distributor. His introductory spiel to customers was: “Brandt is the name; dirt sucking’s the game.”

From 1972 through 1973 Brandt worked for UNESCO with his sociology professor, Steve Vago, who became a lifelong friend. Their travels for work and leisure took them all over Europe including East Berlin and notably Croatia where he ended up an extra in the film Fiddler on the Roof.

He graduated from St. Louis University in 1971 with a BA in Sociology. In 1972, he earned his MA from the University of Chicago where he completed all but his dissertation towards a PhD in Sociology. Amidst that graduate degree pursuit, Bill was introduced to the corporate restructuring world while helping his father’s business, triggering a pivot in his career plans.

Establishing his firm DSI in 1976, he became a pioneer in the corporate restructuring and bankruptcy consulting industry. He took that knowledge to promote improvements to Federal bankruptcy laws, that sought to keep the bankruptcy processes streamlined, fair and economically accessible to everyone. Case by case, he strove to save as many jobs as possible.

In 2008, while already serving as trustee of Loyola University, Chicago, he was appointed chair of the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA). He would go on to harness the influence of those two positions to launch a program which he considered one of his greatest achievements. In 2013, the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine became the first medical school in the U.S. to admit undocumented DACA students, with an IFA interest-free loan program, provided those students work in medically-underserved areas of Illinois after obtaining their degrees.

Bill also served as a member and Chair of the National Advisory Council for the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California Berkeley (2006-2018). He played an integral role in recruiting major supporters to IGS and in spearheading its annual salon dinner, which brought in nationally-recognized figures to speak about American politics. In addition to Bill’s long-standing leadership of  IGS, he was joined by his wife Patrice Bugelas-Brandt in the creation and support of the Mike Synar Graduate Research Fellowship and the Charles H. Percy Undergraduate Grant for Public Affairs Research, which recognize and elevate some of UC Berkeley’s most promising students.  These fellowships were created to honor Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma who was Bill’s collaborator when he first became active in politics and public policy, and Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois for whom Patrice worked as a press secretary.

Bill believed everyone has a responsibility to leave the world a better place than they found it. He personally worked to keep government accountable and responsive to social problems; he worked to keep higher education strong, dynamic, and obtainable; and diligently recycled almost everything he touched.

Throughout his life Bill’s commitment to family was constant. Despite all the travel his work required, he never once missed a birthday. He made sure he was home for every dad-daughter dance, lead the trick-or-treat group every Halloween, and went to innumerable little league games. He loved being a dad, and loved being a grandpa even more. His family is sure the toy car industry will take a hit with his passing.

Bill is survived by his wife of 43 years, Patrice; his children Katherine, William, Joan, and John; daughters-in-law Danielle and Gabrielle; grandson William; brothers Jim, Mike, and John; and dozens of cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends all of whom he considered family.

Read Lynn Sweet's tribute to Bill here.

About Patrice Bugelas-Brandt

Patrice's career began with working for Illinois Senator Charles H. Percy as his press secretary from 1973-1977. After leaving the staff of the Senator from Illinois, Patrice managed media relations for Chicago Public Television and ended for work life as the public relations director of the Alliance of American Insurers. Since 1985, Patrice has devoted her time between raising her family and doing volunteer work for Democratic Party causes and cultural institutions in Chicago. Since 2004, Patrice has served as a member of the Illinois Arts Council working to bring arts education to the public schools of the state. Patrice attended Carleton College and was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois. She has been married to Bill Brandt for over 30 years.