Jack O. Roeser, R.I.P.

Here’s the Heartland Institute’s Joe Bast writing about the passing of my former boss, Jack Roeser:

A gentle giant just fell. Every person living in Illinois owes him an enormous debt of gratitude. The state’s business leaders, politicians, and reporters should hang their heads in shame for not having followed his lead.

Jack O. Roeser passed away today at the age of 90. I was on his radio show a few months ago, followed by a hugely enjoyable lunch, and I talked with him about scheduling another appearance on his show again just a couple weeks ago. I never got the follow-up call.

Jack was a successful businessman, turning the Carpentersville, Illinois-based Otto Engineering into a highly regarded and successful business designing and manufacturing precision instruments for demanding customers around the world. He successfully handed the family-owned business off to his son, Otto, one of the highest accomplishments any businessman can attain, and perhaps the achievement in a life full of them that he was most proud of.

Jack transformed Carpentersville, too, by supporting the purchase, renovation, and re-sale of hundreds of homes in the community. Entire neighborhoods were given a second life due to his vision and generosity. I doubt there is another businessman in the world who did as much for his local community.

The contributions made by Jack that touched the most lives were in the realm of politics and public policy. Jack was a conservative who put his money, time, and reputation behind his convictions. If you live outside Illinois and are reading this, you probably cannot imagine how rare, even precious, he was. The number of business leaders in Illinois with courage and conviction can be counted on one hand.

For twenty-five years Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion in Springfield and doled out favors and protection to their business friends. During those years, business leaders saw no need to support free-market ideas, or candidates who promised lower taxes or less regulation, or even to get engaged in grassroots politics. They sat on the sidelines and watched corruption spread through government and apathy destroy the Republican Party. The “Reagan Revolution” completely bypassed the State of Illinois.

Read more: Heartland Institute