The Marshall Field Family
by Alexis Fasseas | Nov 01, 2010
From Downtown to Dog Town, Transforming Chicago
From education and the environment to the arts and animal welfare, the Marshall Field family has made a tremendous impact on the city of Chicago. The story of the family is truly historic, with the original Marshall Field transforming the shopping experience by introducing the modern department store, launching Marshall Field and Company in 1881. Mr. Field later went on to contribute to the Field Museum of Natural History, bearing the family name, and founded the University of Chicago with John D. Rockefeller. His grandson, Marshall Field III, was the founder of the Chicago Sun, which became the Chicago Sun-Times. Today, Jamee and Marshall Field V and their four children – Jamee, Marshall VI, Stephanie and Abigail – continue the Field legacy.
An avid environmentalist and supporter of conservation, Marshall Field V is chair of the World Wildlife Fund’s National Council and currently is serving on the organization’s board of directors. He is also a member of The Nature Conservancy and the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Board of Visitors of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and an Honorary Director of Openlands, which protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and surrounding region. He was also instrumental in making Chicago’s Millennium Park a reality. Jamee and Marshall serve on the board of trustees at The Field Museum in Chicago, and for years, they have been supporting the cause of animal welfare.
“Marshall and I grew up in dogmad households,” said Jamee. “My mother-in-law owned dozens of breeds and all sizes, from Dachshunds to English Setters. She never just had one–it was always two or three or four at a time. At the end of her life she adopted strays.”
Jamee’s family had five Boston Terriers through her childhood. “My mother always chose the runt of the litter to save it. She felt that no one would want it. This was long before people gave much thought to adopting strays,” Jamee recalls. “But I know that if our parents had had the PAWS influence, they would have been on board too.”
Jamee and Marshall had dogs throughout their marriage and rescued their first shelter dog 14 years ago–a Lab / Pitbull mix who still enjoys chasing squirrels today. “PAWS has answered all of our concerns about animal care and welfare in the city of Chicago,” Jamee said.
The Field Family helped launch PAWS Chicago. They were among the earliest PAWS Chicago supporters, naming the Marshall Field Family Surgical Suite at the Lurie Spay/Neuter Clinic in 2000. “Marshall, Jamee and the Field childrens’ early support served as inspiration for many of PAWS Chicago’s future donors,” said Paula Fasseas, Founder and Chair of PAWS Chicago. “Just two years after the organization’s founding, the Fields saw the promise of a better day for homeless pets in Chicago.”
Since its opening, the Lurie Clinic has become the largest free spay/neuter clinic in the nation, performing more than 17,000 surgeries each year, the majority of surgeries free of charge for families on public assistance. The results have been monumental, with a continued trend of decreasing the number of unwanted pets entering Chicago’s Animal Control (city pound.) The Lurie Clinic has been responsible for much of the more-than-50% reduction of euthanasia in the city of Chicago.
In 2007, as PAWS Chicago was launching its next major initiative, the Adoption & Humane Center, the Field family once again was a leader in PAWS Chicago’s fundraising initiative, naming The Marshall Field Family Dog Town. The 13,000 square foot Adoption Center in the heart of Lincoln Park has become a national model, featured in national news outlets like The Oprah Winfrey Show and Nightline. More than 5,500 dogs have been saved and adopted through Dog Town since its opening in September 2007.
Marshall and Jamee were Honorary Chairs at the 2009 PAWS Chicago Fur Ball, recognized for all they have contributed to the PAWS Chicago organization and to animals in the city. That night, their daughter, Jamee Jr., fell in love-at-first-sight with an adorable puppy, Madison. “I hadn’t planned on getting a dog just then but she was so cute I couldn’t resist,” recalls Jamee Jr. “Thanks to Maddie I’m traveling a little less, loving being at home more, and taking her with whenever I can. I’m sure that most people say this about their dogs but Maddie is the happiest, cutest dog I’ve ever seen. She’s so incredibly mild mannered and absolutely loves other people and dogs. She gets along with everyone and is excited and thankful for the littlest things. Frankly, I wish I could be a little bit more like my dog!”
Since adopting Maddie, Jamee Jr. has become an adoption advocate. “I can’t imagine the number of dogs out there that are sweet, lovable dogs like Maddie that get euthanized simply due to the fact that there are too many of them out there without homes,” she said. But Jamee is not the only Field child with a love for pets. Marshall VI has five dogs and four cats at home and Abby adopted a Poodle-Shitzu mix this year.
“We and our four children believe that a No Kill city is a real possibility here. The fact that PAWS Chicago’s work has resulted in a 50% reduction in euthanasia in Chicago and in so many thousands of yearly adoptions here is absolutely amazing,” said Jamee Field. “There is still a long way to go but with PAWS Chicago riding herd on this city, we are destined for success.” With supporters like the Field family on board, Chicago will certainly become the largest No Kill city in the nation.