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Jack Roeser

Friday, Jun 13, 2014

* There’s been no official statement released, but I have confirmed that conservative activist Jack Roeser passed away early this morning.

The man sure hated him some teachers’ unions. And he gave the GOP establishment in this state fits for decades. He was who he was, he did what he did, and if you didn’t like it, he didn’t care a bit. I couldn’t help admiring him for that.

The man made his mark on this state more than any single non-politician in memory. You may not have agreed with it, maybe even hated what he did, but I gotta tell you I always found him to be a real gentleman in person.

Jack and I had more than our share of go-arounds, but none of our conversations ever ended with anger. There was never any personal animosity between us. And I know he felt the same about many others.

* Jack was very proud of the wildly successful Otto Engineering business he built from scratch and the good things he was able to get done for Carpentersville and the surrounding areas. He deserved to be proud of those accomplishments. He did plenty of good.

From his Widipedia entry

Roeser enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served during World War II as a Corporal in the 1689th Engineer Battalion Combat Engineers in the Pacific Theater. He served in combat with distinction fighting the Japanese in the Philippines, most notably in the Battle of Leyte. He was one of the first U.S. Soldiers to set foot on Japan after their surrender to the Allies in 1945.

* Look, I know some of you folks completely disagreed with Jack’s politics. But keep it civil in comments. The man has a family and many, many friends. I, for one, will miss him.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Soccermom - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    I am stunned.

  2. - When I'm in the Thompson Center I eat at Arby's - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:36 pm:


  3. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    A smart intelligent man who knew how to push the appropriate buttons within the Illinois GOP and this State. He was more successful in politics than perhaps he even realized. Rest in peace.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:40 pm:


    I don’t know what to say, but my thoughts and prayers are for his family and friends at this time.

  5. - Confused - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    Hard to imagine. He was a constant.

  6. - Amalia - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    A man of his age…over 90, right?…..who kept it going at a high level for more years than many of us will be able to do. gotta hand it to him for keeping at it in his own way. god speed.

  7. - A guy... - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    He didn’t settle. None of us should. Rest in Peace Jack.

  8. - OneMan - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Had a really fancy control for a game for the original XBOX that I understood they made, thing had a ton of switches, buttons and two joysticks that I understand Otto made, the controller was a lot better than the game.

  9. - frustrated GOP - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:50 pm:

    He lived long enough to see same sex marriage legal in Illinois.

    Karma, and that’s as positive as I can be on this topic.

  10. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    RIP Jack and thank you for your service to our country.

  11. - Anon - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    He was 90; Born August 31, 1923.

  12. - John A Logan - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    Jack was tough. Met him one time. May he rest in peace.

  13. - Jimbo - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    Rest in peace. He did make things interesting I suppose.

  14. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    I appreciate his service in WWII.

    – MrJM

  15. - Jimbo - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    I’ll remember him as a hard liner, although I’m sure he softened that line quite a bit for Rauner.

  16. - Yipperdo - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    I am totally of opposite political views of the man. However, WMAY ran his radio program and I have to say that sometimes I found myself agreeing with the principle of his arguement. I believe he would always say he was 91 years old. Two big figures in one day-wow.

  17. - Noy Noy - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    I remember seeing William Kelly tour the OTTO Engineering factory on Upscale Chicago years ago.

    I believe they’ve had a falling out since.

  18. - wordslinger - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    Lived a full life and didn’t hide his light under a bushel.

    My peeps were WWII generation. Not many of them left. They stomped the earth, man.

  19. - Amuzing Myself - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    Agree or disagree with his politics - I did both - he forced soul-searching in the GOP for many years on many issues. As American a role as I can think of. RIP.

  20. - Noy Noy - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    A judge in California gave him a nice sending off present when teacher tenure was struck down.

  21. - john doe - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    Was he related to Tom Roeser, the late radio host at WLS?

  22. - Joe Calomino - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    I too disagreed with Jacks politics on many levels. However, I always respected his opinions and his desire to do what he felt was right. I was also very impressed by his life story and the positive influences he imparted upon his community and business ventures. A rich legacy built by a self-made man. RIP to a good man. Prayers to his family.

  23. - Noy Noy - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    He was not related to Tom Roeser the WLS host, although his son, and current CEO of Otto Engineering is named Tom Roeser.

    Here’s a fun video of Jack’s son Tom:

  24. - veritas - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Jack walked the walk and led by example - never expecting effort and sacrifice from others that he wasn’t willing to put forth and endure himself. He paid the rest of us the ultimate compliment that we could do what he could do, but very few could even hope to accomplish what he did in life. There is a place where his remarkable integrity, faith and charity will be rewarded, but it isn’t this existence - it is Heaven. Welcome to the big dance, Jack. You punched your ticket long, long ago!!

  25. - Noy Noy - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    This link gets right to the point of the Tom Roeser video

  26. - dupage dan - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    The father of my old high school buddy’s was a combat engineer in the Pacific. They didn’t sit around much. Roeser was a hero and served our country well. He deserves our gratitude.

    As a conservative, I thought his strategies and tactics were misplaced. It is clear he felt strongly about politics and did what he thought was right.

    Condolences to his family.

  27. - Responsa - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    Jack Roeser’s experiences and the various battles he believed were worth fighting over a long lifetime are a good reminder that the public`caricature that is painted of any individual person is very often not fully accurate. In remembering him, keeping in mind that he was of a different era helps with perspective. I admit I kinda cringed in advance in later years when I heard he’d appear on a show or TV panel discussion. But I never doubted he meant what he said. They were not “talking points” to him. RIP, Mr. Roeser.

  28. - Anon - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:54 pm:

    Part of Jack’s legacy is a Democrat owning the Sec. of State’s office since 1998. That’s when Roeser backed Jesse White over Al Salvi because Salvi supposedly wasn’t sufficiently conservative for Jack’s liking.

    If Rauner wins, his administration would be another part of the Roeser legacy.

  29. - Your original "Boy Scientist" - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    We’ll miss you, Jack. You were a true leader. RIP.

  30. - Void - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    He worked very hard to advance his corporate agenda! Good bye jack, good bye.

  31. - Noy Noy - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    He was a character until the very end

    Here is a video of him dancing on stage at a Tea Party rally just 2 MONTHS AGO!

  32. - I B Strapped - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 4:21 pm:

    That is good stuff!

    My fathers generation, WW2 combat engineer also. (Europe)

    What a great generation. RIP, Mr Roeser and Thank you for your service to our country, when it really counted….

  33. - Anonymous - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 4:26 pm:

    I never understood how a man who had served his country well, did wonderful things for the community, proudly supported his alma mater, UIUC, and was generally successful at everything was so lousy at politics.

    I saw first-hand his ugly obsession and hatred for homosexuals, and the fact that he had a gay child made it even more perplexing and disappointing. And by this, I do not mean opposing civil unions or gay marriage. I state explicitly that the man hated homosexuals and would rail in explicit detail about it.

    I really wish I could be more positive. Condolences to his family and friends.

  34. - Rhino Slider - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 4:28 pm:

    He was very closed minded and obstinate. When combined with much money, he drove the GOP elites CRAZY. He was the refuge of last resort for political pariahs. He hired some real nutjobs who frequently made a huge mess of things. Most of his money was ineffective wasted and he will not leave a political legacy and Champion News will fold.

    All that being said, I admire a person who fights hard for their convictions. Illinois politics has strange characters. He was definitely a character.

  35. - Walker - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 4:51 pm:

    Combat Engineer. He liked blowing up things, and engaging the enemy, always fighting for his desires for America. RIP.

  36. - Frank Zappa is a genius - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    Having worked at statewide levels of Dem. politics in Illinois I blindly thought before meeting Jack based on the media that he was a caricature of all that I disliked about Republicans. Based on getting to know him in person I found him to be an incredibly generous and kind servant of a man. He personally underwrote the operating budget of a majority African American catholic grammar school in Chicago for over a decade costing him many many millions over the years without putting out press releases about it. I have spent time at his Otto facility with him. 90 percent of his philanthropy he didnt put out press releases on. Much of it to rebuild carpentersville at no profit to him. Being a Dem in those circles I rarely met his philanthropic equal on the Dem side. Dont judge a book by its cover holds true . Political labels like sexual labels and race labels are stupid. What is the character of the individual heart is what matters in our brief lives. God bless Jack Roeser.

  37. - liandro - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 5:27 pm:

    My best memory of Jack is seeing his Army Engineer wall and those medals and memories he had posted there. As a fellow Army Engineer, I sure felt put in my place by what he had on that wall. He forged his own life, and I respected that very much. Rest in peace, Jack.

  38. - Anon - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 7:13 pm:


  39. - Kristin Ehlbeck - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 7:13 pm:

    Jack was my great uncle. Did not know all his politics since i moved from Illinois in the early 80’s but he was a great man. Always generous and kind. He was funny. Believed that you needed to work for what you got. Period. I remember when we were visiting his sister (my grandma) in AZ and we were driving to the pool to go swimming (he had rented a towncar). All of us “kids” were in the back and we were calling him Jeeves as if he was our chauffer. He enjoyed every minute of it. Rest in Peace Uncle Jack. You will be missed!

  40. - Silent Majority - Friday, Jun 13, 14 @ 7:54 pm:

    While many commenters disagree with most of what Jack said, I agree with about 90% of it. It’s too bad that the respect shown to the man in these posts after he is gone wasn’t shown to him while he was alive. Anyway, Rest in Peace, Jack.

  41. - MSchneider - Sunday, Jun 15, 14 @ 9:44 pm:

    I too am a great niece of Jack’s and I worked for him at his foundation. Truly one of the most generous, intellingent and special men to walk this planet. I named my only son after him. He was true to his beliefs - always, no matter what. You have to admire a man like that. Steadfast and strong. I love you Uncle Jack and I will forever miss you.

  42. - MW Brown - Monday, Jun 16, 14 @ 10:12 pm:

    I sailed with Jack. I disagreed with about %80 of his politics. He was also one of the most decent, fun-loving and generous men I’ll probably ever meet. Its sad that he’s passed, but we can use the life he lived as a guide and inspiration. I wish you nothing but following seas, good air, and a cold beverage of your choice. RIP.

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