Jack Roeser, founder of Otto Engineering, was the first millionaire since W. Clement Stone to open his check book to Republican and conservative causes.
He was the first millionaire to run for Governor. Roeser challenged incumbent Jim Edgar in the 1994 Republican primary, receiving 25% of the vote.
He was a man of strong opinions, but gentle demeanor.
Opposition to abortion meant so much to him that he had his company’s health plan with St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elgin, where abortions were not performed.
He often attended the McHenry County Pro-Life Pig Roast held at Irene Naper’s home.
When Patriots United honored Napier with its first Henry Hyde Award in 2011, Roeser sang her praises.
I remember talking with Roeser about what to call a policy group he was about the found.
He was thinking about using the words “Family” and “Network.”
I suggested he add something about taxes.
The Family Taxpayers Network was the final name.
Inspired by what he considered the outrageous cost of replacing a roof at one of Carpentersville School District 300 roofs, he got interested in education.
When teacher salaries were pretty much hidden, FTN built a data base that allowed people to find out what teachers and administrators earned.
He successfully backed a couple of school board candidates in District 300.
It was him against the teachers’ union, in this case a unit of the Illinois Education Association.
And he regularly wrote checks to other conservative candidates.
Roeser also thought the key to reform in Illinois was getting rid of House Speaker Mike Madigan.
He characterized Madigan as “the man most responsible for the desolation of our once great state.”
When the Republican Party failed to field a candidate against Madigan, Roeser backed Democrat Michelle Piszczor. Piszczor agreed with Roeser’s assessment:
“Madigan is the root of all evil here in our state. He is the weed in our garden.”
When Madigan tried to elect Dee Beaubien as an Independent where Roeser lived, he wrote big checks to Republican candidate David McSweeney.
Roeser accused Madigan of “using negative attacks [in support of Beaubien’s campaign] to cover up his record of bankrupting Illinois all fueled by the torrent of money flowing from the IEA and other public sector unions.”
Tom Roeser (no relation) was a major force behind Operation LEAP (Legal Elections in All Precincts).
When that organization of young professionals pushing honest elections in Illinois died, Roeser helped fund Defend the Vote, run by Sharon Meroni.
When the 1960’s Morningside townhouse neighborhood on the east side of Carpentersville was going to seed, he and his son Tom, the current CEO of the family business, bought about 200 properties, remodeled them and sold them to his employees.
He and his son also bought industrial properties next to his Carpentersville factory near the Fox River and renovated them.
Bruce Rauner’s comment:
“I was saddened to learn of Jack’s passing early this morning. Jack was a veteran and patriot, built a respected company and used his business success to give back to the community. He was always willing to stand up for what he believed in and impacted many lives in a positive way. He will be missed.”
David McSweeney’s comment:
“Jack Roeser was a great businessman, family man and conservative leader. He constantly fought for lower taxes and real reform. He will be missed!”
Sharon Meroni has written a piece from which the following is excerpted:
“One day in 2012, Jack came to me about the theft of the vote from our most vulnerable residents, those living in nursing homes across Cook County. The mission he gave us was to change the practice of only one party overseeing the nursing home vote in Suburban Cook and Chicago. We succeeded. Today, nursing home patients have both a Republican and Democratic Judge of Election assuring their vote is accurately administered and counted. Jack cared about everyone, but especially those in need of protection.”
Congressman Randy Hultgren said the following:
Christy and I would like to offer our prayers to Jack’s family.Jack was an unsurpassed giant in the conservative movement. He was an expert at translating the principles of conservatism into everyday actions and set the bar high for all of us.
His entrepreneurial spirit and business success is a model for those in pursuit of the American Dream. His passion for education reform and ensuring that every child has an equal chance at succeeding was well known.
He fought hard for accountability in the school system to ensure that all students received the education they deserved.
He never wavered in the cause to ensure that the vision for limited government by our Founding Fathers was observed and respected.
Jack will be greatly missed.