Your Minnesota Legacy

Text Resize
Print This
Email This
Request Illustration
Download Brochure

Remembering Richard DeLeo: Champion of the Society's Historic Sites

Remembering Richard DeLeo: Champion of the Society's Historic Sites


Shirley and Dick DeLeo at Historic Forestville
The Society lost a great friend and a champion of its historic sites program last month. Richard (Dick) DeLeo passed away on November 13, 2012 at the age of 90. Dick was born and raised in St. Paul, served in the Army in Europe during World War II, graduated from the University of Minnesota as an engineer, and enjoyed a distinguished career at Rosemount Engineering where his inventions resulted in many patents and he rose to become VP of Aeronautical Engineering.

In 1973 Dick and his wife Shirley joined the Society. It was the beginning of a very special and rewarding relationship. Over the next 39 years they visited all of the Society's historic sites – many of them numerous times – and became enamored with the important role that these places play in helping people of all ages discover the past. Dick wrote several years ago, "In our rapidly changing world, it is important that people understand and appreciate our history. Historic sites provide an educational and entertaining link to the past, and the Society's historic sites program is one of the best in the nation."

In 1996 the DeLeos made their first gift ($5,000) to launch the Richard and Shirley DeLeo Fund for Historic Sites. In the ensuing years, they added more than $500,000 to grow their fund. They also named the Society as a beneficiary of a charitable trust that will add an additional $275,000 to their fund. They also began to make significant annual gifts to support projects to enhance programming at historic sites. A sample of the activities supported by the DeLeos included funding additional history players at several sites annually, a documentary film about James J. Hill, school programs at the Forest History Center, operation of a horse drawn trolley at the Kelley Farm, and the Split Rock Centennial Celebration highlighted by a magnificent fireworks display.


Oliver Kelley Farm
Confronted with a significant state budget reduction in 2003, the Society felt it was necessary to close several historic sites. When he heard the news, Dick said "What can I do to help?" He worked with us to save three sites scheduled to be closed – Historic Forestville, the Oliver Kelley Farm, and Fort Ridgely. Dick offered to put up half the funds needed (more than $100,000 a year for two years) to keep the sites open provided Friends organizations raised the remaining funds. Dick insisted that his gift be anonymous. Our Friends groups, thrilled to hear about the wonderful gift from an anonymous donor, worked hard to raise the required match. When the funding crisis ended, Dick agreed to share his identity with the three Friends organizations. They were delighted to have the opportunity to express their gratitude and honor their "angel".

Earlier this year, Dick stepped forward with a plan to help ensure the futures of three of our historic sites. Dick believed that individual site endowments are critical to the future vitality of each site. He offered to give $300,000 and a future gift through his will to create an endowment challenge to build site endowments at the Alexander Ramsey House, Historic Forestville, and the Henry Sibley House. The Society is working to fulfill Dick's vision.


Split Rock Lighthouse, photo courtesy Paul Sundberg
Dick was a great friend who will be greatly missed by all of us who had the privilege to know and work with him. He and Shirley, who passed away in 2003, left the Society and the people of Minnesota with a legacy that will live on for generations to come.


Print This
Email This
Request Illustration
Download Brochure
scriptsknown

Charity Navigator is America's premier independent charity evaluator. Click on the logo to review our four star rating.
Your Minnesota Legacy Home Explore Your Options - Create Your Plan Learn About Wills Calculators Sample Bequest language News Contact Us