Richard Duchossois, affectionately known as “Mr. D”, especially among the dedicated staff of the Arlington Park property, died on Friday, January 28, 2022 at the age of 100. He is best known as the owner of Arlington Park (later Arlington International Racecourse), and later a major shareholder of Churchill Downs Incorporated.
Born October 7, 1921, Duchossois lived in the Beverly neighborhood of southwest Chicago and graduated from Morgan Park Military Academy in the Morgan Park neighborhood near Beverly. He married his high school girlfriend, Beverly, then attended Washington and Lee College at Lexington University before beginning active military service during World War II. Richard Duchossois served in five European campaigns during World War II, including in Normandy where he was a tank commander with the US Army’s 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Duchossois landed on Utah Beach a month after the D-Day invasion. He was a tank commander under General George Patton and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Duchossois also served as military governor of the Eichstätt region and rose to the rank of major before being discharged from active duty in 1946. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his combat wounds on the Moselle between Germany and the France where he was initially marked for dead in a field hospital.
When Duchossois returned from World War II, he joined his wife Beverly’s family business, Thrall Car Manufacturing Co. The business grew and its portfolio expanded with the purchase of Chamberlain Manufacturing Group, from broadcast outlets and eventually Arlington Park after Beverly’s death from cancer.
At the end of the Arlington Park (Arlington International) timeline, Richard Duchossois became the President Emeritus of Arlington Park. Along with three business partners, he purchased the horse racing track in 1983 from Gulf & Western – an American apparel, entertainment, industrial, media and publishing conglomerate that sold all the non-entertainment and publishing divisions in the 1980s. Duchossois took full control of the racetrack from the other two business partners in 1986, then merged the track’s assets with Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) in 2000. After the merger with CDI, Duchossois and his family were the main shareholders of CDI. .
Weeks after a major fire on July 31, 1985 destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse, ‘Teleprompter’ won the 1985 Arlington Million with the race heralded by the fabulous voice of Phil Georgeffe. YouTube Tips ⓘ
Duchossois was the commander who pushed to hold the Arlington Million with temporary grandstands even after a major fire destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse on July 31, 1985. Duchossois led the effort to remove massive debris of the grandstand destroyed in time for the Arlington. Million in a few weeks. Workers erected temporary stands and the Arlington Million International Horse Race was held with authorized people in the infield in addition to the temporary grandstands. The magnificent new six-story grandstand was completed in 1989 and the track reopened as Arlington International Racecourse.
Duchossois has preserved a framed photograph of gardeners clearing the track with the still-smoldering ruins in the background with the caption “Quitter? Surely not!” … On his 100th birthday, 12 days after the last day at Arlington International Racecourse, Richard Duchossois received the American flag that flew at Arlington International Racecourse. The flag was lowered for the last time by the Arlington Heights Police Department Honor Guard.
The Beverly D. Stakes, first held in 1987, is named after Beverly D. Duchossois and was part of the Arlington International Festival of Racing, which was one of the richest turf racing series in the United States.
Richard L. Duchossois is survived by his wife, Mary Judith, whom he married in 2000, after the death of his wife Beverly in 1980, three children, two stepchildren and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son Bruce in 2014.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic guidelines, no visitation is scheduled and funeral and burial services will be attended by immediate family only.
Richard “Dick” Duchossois, longtime owner of Arlington International Racetrack, has died at the age of 100. https://t.co/rYMsdHDIk0
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) January 29, 2022
Dick Duchossois, longtime owner of Arlington International Racetrack, dies https://t.co/YYG9R9BLTy pic.twitter.com/WmWGtzuSrw
— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) January 29, 2022
Richard “Dick” Duchossois, longtime owner of Arlington International Racetrack, has died at the age of 100. https://t.co/piPniDuWAQ
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) January 29, 2022
Richard Duchossois, horse racing icon from Chicago, dies at 100 https://t.co/YzngLodimg
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) January 29, 2022
Longtime Arlington Park racetrack owner Dick Duchossois dies at 100https://t.co/MyoPnHPgB0
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) January 28, 2022
Dick Duchossois, affectionately nicknamed “Mr. D”, will be remembered as a military hero, a local businessman and a philanthropist. https://t.co/igDQrBu9jk
— Beverly-MtG Patch (@BeverlyMtGPatch) January 28, 2022
ALERT: Industry icon Richard L. Duchossois dies at 100 https://t.co/xGdtq3Unf6 pic.twitter.com/E22bwyFj3U
— Blood Horse (@BloodHorse) January 28, 2022
blood horse | The man behind the million
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— Bob Sirott (@BobSirott) January 28, 2022
— Mary Ann Ahern (@MaryAnnAhernNBC) January 28, 2022
Statement from Chicago Bears President George H. McCaskey on the passing of Dick Duchossois: pic.twitter.com/N6liFSqKqn
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 29, 2022
Richard Duchossois was honored with a minute of silence before the second day of the National Horseplayers Championship. RIP, Mr D. pic.twitter.com/KDT8W6px7A
– NTRA (@NTRA) January 29, 2022