About Daniel C. Searle
Daniel C. Searle, founder of the Searle Freedom Trust, prepared his own obituary before passing away in 2007. It is reproduced below.
D.C. Searle: Reflections
After my brother’s death in 2004, I was urged by a well-meaning friend to draft my own obituary because I alone had first-hand knowledge of where all of the skeletons are buried. After some thought, this idea appealed to me, chiefly because knowing where the skeletons are gives me a leg up on how to keep them there. So, for better or for worse, here’s a lengthy (probably too lengthy) dissertation about my life, containing a plethora of information that can be mined by anybody who’s interested.
Daniel C. Searle, or Dan to his friends, died on [October 30, 2007] of numerous diseases that come along with old age. Born in Evanston Hospital on May 6, 1926, it won’t be hard to figure out that he was  years of age when he died, as a resident of Hobe Sound, Florida. Dan leaves behind three great children and their equally talented spouses: Anne and Stephen Bent, Gideon and Nancy Searle, and Michael and Nydia Searle, as well as seven grandchildren, all of whom appear to be far brighter than he ever was. Their names are as follows: Ethan, Marion, Kristin, Gideon, Todd, Justine, and Daniel. Dain Fuller Searle survives him, as does his sister, Suzanne Searle Dixon and her husband Wesley M. Dixon, his sister in law Sally Searle, and more nieces, nephews, as well as grand nieces and nephews than can be counted.
Dan was sent away to school in Arizona in 1936 at age 10. He was a sickly kid and couldn’t cope with Chicago’s winters. There is also a family rumor that getting him out of the house was central to his mother’s mental health.
After four years in Arizona, where he “starred” on the school’s polo team, he matriculated to Deerfield Academy, in Deerfield, Massachusetts, for the most challenging education experience of his life.
Shortly before his graduation from Deerfield in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve and signed up for training to become a radio/radar technician.
In the Fall of 1946 he matriculated at Yale University and in later years claimed that he was admitted to Yale only because he was a veteran. Yale was his father’s choice because John Searle wanted his son to attend Yale Medical School after three years as an undergraduate. As an undergraduate studying a pre-medical curriculum, Dan learned that his interest in medicine was related to his interest in the family pharmaceutical company and that he had little interest in becoming a physician to treat patients. Consequently, he dropped a pre-medical curriculum and majored in statistics and economics.
After graduating from Yale, Dan attended the Harvard Business School, from which he graduated in 1952 with distinction. Years later when he served on the Dean’s Advisory Committee at the Business School, he commented that he was lucky to have attended this school when he did because admission standards were so high in later years that he never would have made the grade.
Dan spent his entire business career with G.D. Searle and Co. He was elected Secretary in 1956; Vice President in October 1961; and elected Executive Vice President in 1963. He was elevated to the Presidency in 1966, and then elected as Chief Executive Officer in July 1970. He often said that his rise to the top was a mixture of both merit and an accident of birth. In 1977 he successfully recruited Donald Rumsfeld to become CEO, whereupon he became Chairman of the Board, a position he held until the company was sold to Monsanto in 1985. During Dan’s tenure, the small midwest pharmaceutical company grew to become one of the companies listed in the famous Fortune 500.
Dan Searle was an avid sportsman. In high school he played football, ice hockey and lacrosse. At Yale he was a member of the intercollegiate champion polo team. After college, he became an avid golfer and after much coaching by Glenview’s renowned Ed Oldfield, he competed in the finals of the Club championship at both Glenview and Indian Hill Clubs and finally won the club championship years later at Old Elm.He and his children spent family vacations skiing together at Vail, and later in life he took up both fly-fishing and drive bird shooting in Europe with gusto.
Because of his commitment to his family and G.D. Searle & Co., Dan had little time available for hobbies or extracurricular activities. There were, of course, a couple of exceptions. He earned a private pilot’s license in 1973 and eventually qualified as a pilot in a small jet aircraft, flying as both a hobby and business tool. Dan also became interested in professional sports because of his interests in sports, in general, and because he foresaw significant economic rewards stemming from the ownership of a well-run franchise. He was a founding member of the syndicate that bought the Milwaukee Braves from the Perini Corporation in Boston. Later he became a member of the syndicate that brought NBA basketball to Chicago in the form of the Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately, he sold out of both enterprises early, whereas with a little more patience he might have been the envy of Ted Turner.
In the course of his business career, Dan Searle served as a Director of the following companies:
- Atlanta/LaSalle Corporation (owner of the Atlanta Braves baseball team)
- Harris Trust & Savings Bank
- Jim Walter Corporation
- Kinship Corporation (Earl Kinship Capital Corporation)
- LaSalle Street Capital Corporation
- Maynard Oil Company
- Multimix Systems, Inc.
- National Boulevard Bank
- Old Orchard Bank
- Utilities, Inc.
Philanthropic and Civic Activities
Dan Searle served on the following philanthropic and civic organization boards:
- The Advisory Council of NU School of Business, Member
- The Art Institute of Chicago, Trustee
- Better Government Association, Trustee
- Chemical Industries Council of the Midwest, Director
- The Chicago Association of Commerce & Industry, Director
- Christ Church Vestry, Member
- Committee for Economic Development, Trustee
- D&D Foundation (The Searle Freedom Trust), Founder & Trustee
- Donors Trust, Director
- Ethics & Public Policy Center, Director
- Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, Director*
- Harvard Business School, Board of Directors/Executive Council
- Hudson Institute, Trustee
- Kinship Foundation, Trustee
- North Shore Country Day School, Winnetka, Director
- Northwestern University, Trustee*
- Project Hope, Director
- University of Chicago, Council on Medical & Biological Research
- WTTW/Channel 11, Trustee Emeritus*
- Yale Alumni Board, Member-at-Large
Other Philanthropic Activities:
- Jupiter Island Medical Foundation
- Jupiter Island Medical Fund
- Christ Memorial Chapel
The Searle Freedom Trust
This is Dan’s legacy to his children and grandchildren. Generations to come will benefit from greater freedom of choice as this Foundation (Trust) achieves its goals of creating an environment that promotes individual freedom and economic liberties, while encouraging personal responsibilities and a respect for traditional American values.
When asked how Dan would like to be remembered, he replied without hesitation and with a smile and twinkle in his eye, “I want people to say that he was fun to be with. But perhaps that’s a vain hope, because I was goal oriented. To my friends, I’d like to say, see you later. Without you, life would have had little meaning for me.”
Foundation president Kim Dennis remembers Mr. Searle in the pages of Philanthropy.
John Miller writes about Mr. Searle for National Review.