Bob Harlan was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 9, 1936. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Marquette University in 1958. After a brief tour of duty in the U.S. Army, Harlan was named sports information director at Marquette and served six years in that capacity.
He joined the St. Louis baseball Cardinals in 1965, acting as director of community relations for two years and public relations director for three years. He earned a World Series ring when the Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox in 1967.
Harlan was named assistant general manager of the Green Bay Packers on June 1, 1971. He also served the team as corporate general manager, corporate assistant to the president and executive vice president of administration.
On June 5, 1989, Harlan was elected the ninth president and chief executive officer in Packers’ history, and he served as the team’s top executive for 19 years.
Under Harlan’s guidance, the Packers enjoyed resurgence on the field. In 1991, he hired Ron Wolf as general manager and gave him full authority over the football operation. Wolf hired Mike Holmgren as head coach and, five years later, the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI and brought the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay for the first time in 29 years.
After Wolf retired, Harlan hired Ted Thompson as general manager, and Thompson built the team that gave Green Bay its 13th world championship by winning Super Bowl XVL.
Off the field, Harlan’s crowning achievement was the $295 million redevelopment of historic Lambeau Field, a move that assured the Packers’ financial survival for several decades.
Harlan’s other accomplishments include the 1994 decision to leave Milwaukee, ending a 62-year stay, and play all home games in Green bay; launching the fourth stock sale in the team’s history, a move that added over 100,000 new shareholders and raised $24 million and authorized construction of the Don Hutson Center, the team’s state-of-the-art indoor practice facility.
Harlan, who is now the Packers’ Chairman Emeritus, was previously inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.