An excerpt from a nice article by Graeme Zielinski:
This interest has in many ways overshadowed the legacy of the ship's namesake, a leader for decades in Milwaukee whose fingerprints are on almost every enduring civic investment. Perhaps understandably, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald has as a story eclipsed the work of Edmund Fitzgerald the man. From the port of Milwaukee to the arts center, the post office to the War Memorial, Fitzgerald was a "one-man army" as The Milwaukee Journal editorialized, for aggrandizing the city's institutions in the postwar period. He was a national innovator in health care provision, served on countless boards and commissions and was a strong patron of the city's arts organizations.
"He was extraordinarily active, one of the several, but not too many giants, of the city," said his son-in-law, Richard Cutler of Mequon. "People remember what he did in getting things done."
Fitzgerald died in 1986 at the age of 90.
He was born in Milwaukee, served as an artillery captain during World War I and graduated from Yale University before returning home to work at the Milwaukee Malleable Iron Co., where he rose to be secretary. He was elected to the board at Northwestern Mutual in 1933 and was made its chairman in 1958, retiring two years later.