Officials mourn ‘Max,’ key force behind city projects
Max Rubin, Evanston's diretor of facilities management, served as a key point person for the city on major projects during his thirty year career. (Photograph courtesy of Rubin Family)
Services for Max Rubin are scheduled for 1 p.m., Nov. 30 at Beth Emet – The Free Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St., Evanston.
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:16AM
EVANSTON — Max Rubin served as the city’s point person on an astonishing range of projects during a career that spanned nearly 30 years.
“Max,’’ as the mayor on down addressed the congenial Rubin, served as project manager or overseer for the city on projects ranging from new fire stations, multi-deck parking garages, to a new public library in 1993 that became one of downtown Evanston’s centerpieces.
Once a month, the decorated Vietnam War veteran would take off for the weekend, flying with his Naval reserve unit on special missions.
He loved performing in community theater.
After Rubin came down with prostate cancer in the 1990s, he waged a public campaign to promote early detection tests.
He was, in some ways, “a Renaissance Man,” recalled Judith Aiello, a former assistant city manager who started about the same time as Rubin. “He had so many different interests and he used them all,” she said.
The longtime director of facilities management died earlier this week after a battle with thyroid cancer. He was 65.
Two sons, Jeffrey Michael Rubin and David Matthew Rubin, survive him.
Rubin was born in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart, Germany after World War II, said Mary Beth Mikrut, his former wife.
Six months later he and his parents came to America aboard the SS Ernie Pyle, a transport ship used as a carrier for displaced persons, she said.
Rubin grew up on Chicago’s North Side and attended Sullivan High School, she said. He spent a couple of years at the University of Illinois and Kendall College, before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.
As an air crewman, Rubin spent two tours in Vietnam. He earned a Meritorious Service Medal, a National Defense Medal and other commendations.
He served in his reserve unit until age 60, flying on weekends once a month out of the Glenview Air Station and the Great Lakes Naval Base.
Rubin, who held an electrician’s license, started out in building maintenance, later renamed facilities management, recalled Judith Witt, the city’s former human resources director.
He worked up from that job, later holding the positions of facilities management director and emergency services coordinator.
“Max just gave his all to whatever was in front of him,” Witt said.
As project manager on the $23 million library project in 1993, Rubin and U.S. Equities’ decision to do a single-phase construction – moving the collection to an interim site – saved the city $1 million dollars, Alderman Ann Rainey said.
“We have great people (at the city) but they’re not hanging off the side of a building on a beam like he was,’’ she said.
Along with his city job, Ruben was a trustee of the Fourth of July Association and a member of the Peter Jans Community Golf Course board.
Doug Gaynor, the director of parks, forestry and recreation, recalled that Rubin was “the first guy to take me under his wing,” when Gaynor started in 1997, “and kind of introduced me to the community and to the folks in city government.”
The two worked together on a number of complicated projects.
“He was the kind of guy who could be really angry and upset,’’ he said, “but it would always be with a smile on his face, and two minutes later it would be forgotten.”