Jack Roeser, American Entrepreneur and Patriot, 1923-2014

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Jack Roeser

By Peter LaBarbera

Jack Roeser, a phenomenally successful entrepreneur, leading Illinois conservative philanthropist and a faithful AFTAH and pro-family benefactor, passed away June 13 at the age of 90.

I got to know Jack long after he had achieved his business success. I remember a decade ago when he gave me a tour of Otto Engineering–which he started humbly in his basement in 1961 in Park Ridge, Illinois (childhood home of Hillary Rodham Clinton)–and which makes specialty electronic and communications products, including control switches for American fighter jets. Though by this point Jack was retired from day-to-day operations at Otto, he was hardly detached as he proudly explained the history of Otto, including products he invented that were still key to the company’s success.

It was Jack’s ingenuity and determination that built Otto. A friend, relaying a conversation with Jack, told how he was awarded a coveted supplier contract by simply out-hustling much larger, competing corporations and by demonstrating Otto’s ability to rapidly turn around his innovative switch design. Jack was truly a classic American success story–a living testimony of what one person can accomplish in a free society that rewards hard work and creativity. [See this Breitbart tribute to Jack.]

A little-known legacy of Jack’s is how Otto’s continued growth and success dramatically transformed the small town of Carpentersville, Illinois, where it is based. Otto, now run by Jack’s son, Tom, employs around 600 people in its beautifully-restored factory complex on Main Street along the Fox River. In 2008, Tom and Jack launched a remarkable home renovation project, Homes by Otto, that has rejuvenated Carpentersville, one gutted-and-rebuilt house at a time. It is a model for private industry and charity doing efficiently what governments the world over have failed to do despite their profligate spending of taxpayer dollars (think HUD projects). [See this FOX News interview with Tom Roeser.]

So Jack’s legacy of productive and compassionate conservatism lives on through his son. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all.

You can watch a short video celebrating Jack’s fascinating life produced before his death below.

Fighting the Left

Jack was an engineering genius with more than 50 patents, but he was no fan of the Left’s social engineering. He possessed the wisdom and common sense of a more grounded and God-fearing generation that instinctively knows the difference between right and wrong. Scoffing at the idea of legal “same-sex marriage,” he didn’t need to be convinced of the immorality of homosexuality–and the folly of promoting it through the government as a “civil right.”

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