Yesterday, the family, community and The Foundation for Northwest Illinois laid to rest a true servant leader—Richard “Dick” Drogosz.
In his 84 years, Dick lived an extraordinary life. Professionally he recorded 38 years with Honeywell International carrying out different managerial roles in production, marketing, and international business. His career included travel, not only throughout the United States but also Europe, Asia, South America, and various Oceanic countries. It also included different roles in different cities, which meant moving his family to locales like Bloomington, Minnesota; Waterloo, Belgium; and Denver, Colorado; and finally, Freeport.
But Freeport, as Marianne, his lovely wife of 61 years, told me, it was in Freeport where Dick really felt he had found a true home. And he embraced that adopted home with gusto.
Over the decades that Dick Drogosz called Freeport home, he invested his time and resources working with several organizations which included volunteering as a Board member and President of our foundation. He also served on the Boards of Midwest Bank, FHN; United Way of Northwest Illinois, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Church Pastoral Council, Freeport’s Vision 20/20 committee … his community service was so extensive he was awarded a Lifetime Leadership Award from the Greater Freeport Business Community.
Throughout his life, Dick Drogosz exemplified the true essence of selflessness, compassion, and dedication. He possessed an innate gift for making people feel welcomed and valued, and he knew that sense of self-worth helped to foster a strong community built on the foundation of trust, respect, and inclusivity.
Within weeks of my taking the helm of the, then, Freeport Community Foundation, Dick stopped into my office to introduce himself and meet me because, aside from his past Board role, Dick and his wife were also fund holders with The Foundation.
In 2010, Dick and Marianne lost their son, John rather suddenly after a battle with addiction. During that first conversation and others to follow, we bonded over that, as my family—like countless others—has fought its own battles with the addiction demons. And, in true servant leader fashion, Dick, and Marianne, chose to take the immediate tragedy of their child’s death and turn into a legacy of hope for generations of children to come.
The John M. Drogosz Youth Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Memorial Fund held with The Foundation for Northwest Illinois provides an annual grant to nonprofits organizations benefiting Stephenson, Jo Daviess, and/or Carroll County youth (ages 21 and under) by providing educational programming or services substance abuse prevention and treatment. Multiple agencies and residents of our region have benefited over the decade since the fund was established.
And now, this single fund serves as a legacy for two men—the son who it honors and the father who created it—as the family of Dick Drogosz have requested that memorials in his memory be directed to the fund. In honor of this continuing gift and Dick’s amazing legacy as a servant leader in Freeport and Northwest Illinois, The Foundation of Northwest Illinois Board of Directors have elected to match every memorial gift made to the fund, up to $10,000.
This is our way to honor Dick Drogosz, his legacy, and his son, John—and to say thank you to a gracious, compassionate, genuinely community-minded man.
Rest in peace, Dick. We will do our very best to honor your legacy, and John’s.