On December 12, 2019, former Baird President, CEO and Chairman Fred Kasten passed away at age 80 following a long fight with Parkinson’s Disease.

Although it’s been 15 years since Fred retired from Baird, he’s never been far from our hearts or minds. And the impact of his leadership on what we do and how we do it still resonates with all of us every day. It was Fred who took the ideas and principles on which Robert Baird founded our firm and compiled them in a document he called The Baird Way. It’s less a code of corporate conduct than a philosophy of life and purpose.

Find out more by viewing The Baird Way online or download The Baird Way brochure.

Professional headshot of Fred Kasten

A Leader by Example

Fred joined the firm as an intern in 1961 and quickly came to embody Baird’s values. He was named president in 1979 at the age of 39 and his leadership consistently reinforced commitment to our clients’ best interests as the key to our long-term success. This is why our most prestigious honors at Baird – the G. Frederick Kasten Awards – aren’t given based on production or sales goals. They recognize exemplary client service and the less-tangible-yet-undeniable value of keeping clients first.

Kasten Awards are presented by senior managers from Baird’s main businesses and corporate resource groups. These individuals also play an important role in determining who – from among the many deserving candidates nominated by their co-workers each year – should be honored for truly exceeding the expectations of their clients and fellow associates.

Historic professional headshot of Fred Kasten

A Long-Term Vision

Fred’s vision and efforts helped Baird grow beyond its Midwestern roots and reputation as a trusted financial advisor to individuals, families and communities. As our Private Client Group grew and expanded from Wisconsin into 13 additional states under his leadership, Fred actively pursued top equity capital markets talent to serve the needs of more institutional clients. Among those who joined Baird during Fred’s tenure are Baird Chairman, Paul Purcell, and Chairman and CEO Steve Booth.

The Baird Annual Report in 1999 discussed the transition of leadership from Kasten to Purcell. 

Image of a letter signed by Fred Kasten and Paul Purcell - Baird

A Legacy of Caring

Fred was also passionate about the social responsibilities of financial services providers and giving back in the communities Baird serves. He personally served on the board of the Midwest Stock Exchange and was a director of the Securities Industry Association, the New York Stock Exchange Advisory Committee, the Chicago Stock Exchange, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Columbia Hospital, Northwestern National Insurance Company, Regal Beloit Corporation and Super Steel Products Corporation. Fred was also a chair of the United Performing Arts Fund, a volunteer co-chair of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and a trustee of Lawrence University and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Read the coverage of Baird's 2001 United Way campaign kick-off. 

Image of a newsletter featuring Fred Kasten in a superhero cape at a baseball game

In honor of Fred and his legacy of caring, leaders, associates, corporate and community partners of Baird partnered with the Medical College of Wisconsin to establish the G. Frederick Kasten Jr. Endowed Chair in Parkinson’s Disease Research. To learn more, read MCW’s news release and a story that appeared in the Milwaukee Business Journal Gifts totaling more than $2M launch Medical College chair honoring Baird's Kasten.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Fred’s family and friends. We will continue to honor his memory through our commitment to clients like you and the communities we share.

If you wish to honor Fred’s memory, donations to the G. Frederick Jr. Endowed Chair in Parkinson’s Research are appreciated.