Donald Brinkman


Donald Brinkman, who built Safety-Kleen into a national recycling company and later was on the board of directors at Heritage-Crystal Clean, died June 11. He was 87.

Born in Chicago and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, Brinkman attended the University of Illinois. Urbana-Champaign where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business. He later went on to receive an MBA from Northwestern University. Donald began his career in marketing research, joining CR Industries of Elgin, Illinois, in 1960. He recommended that CR Industries purchase Safety-Kleen, and the acquisition was completed in 1968.

He became Safety Kleen’s president and CEO until his retirement from the company in 1998, and then served as director of Heritage-Crystal Clean from 2002 to 2012.

He is survived by his wife, Beverly, his children, Scott, Bonny Putney, Barbara Ladd, Donna Spethman and Dawn Walters, sister Shirley Modelhammer, as well as 11 grandchildren and one great grandchild .

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