OAK BROOK, Ill. – Robert McKinley Beavers Jr., founder of Best Chicago Meat Company and other food ventures, died during a recent vacation to China. He was 71. 

Robert McKinley Beavers Jr., founder of Best Chicago Meats, passed away at age 71.
Robert McKinley Beavers Jr., founder and CEO of Beavers Holdings LLC.

Beavers was founder and CEO of Beavers Holdings LLC and a majority owner of six operating companies including Best Harvest Bakeries, Best Croutons, Best Diamond Plastics, Best Diamond Packaging, Best Chicago Meat Company, and Beavers Real Estate.

He also was a long-time executive and board member for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp. He started with the company as a restaurant worker while attending George Washington Univ. in Washington, DC. He took a job at McDonald’s headquarters in 1968, later moved to New York to open 150 McDonald’s restaurants. During his career with the company, he was appointed vice president in Washington before returning to headquarters as senior vice president. He served on the McDonald's board of directors from 1982 to 1999.

Beavers also served on the board of directors at Blue Cross Blue Shield and NICOR Inc., an energy company in the Midwest. His philanthropic endeavors included the Chicago Zoological Society, the Boy Scouts of America, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Hinsdale Hospital, and Junior Achievement.

Beavers is survived by Josephine, his wife of 51 years, and his four grown children Robert III, Monica, Dionne and Brandon, all of whom work in some facet of the family business.