ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Longtime Arlington Park racetrack owner Dick Duchossois has died at the age of 100.
While he was best known for his running track, he was also a World War II veteran, philanthropist, and businessman born in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood.
Duchossois was part of the “greatest generation” – and like so many others of his time, it was the war that shaped his life.
He was only 20 years old in military school when he got the call.
Duchossois would go on to lead a unit that had been told it would be part of the first wave in Normandy.
“We were lined up for what we thought was D-Day when we found out we weren’t from the initial invasion, our guys were bothered. Our guys wanted to be there at the first crack,” Duchossois said in a 2019 interview.
Lieutenant Duchossois led his troops onto Utah Beach a few days after the initial attack. At one point he was shot and feared dead.
He recovered and returned to the front, leading his company through the Battle of the Bulge on further assaults.
“I had a job to do. I did the best I could. My men were training well. I took most of them home. Many were not killed. The training, the discipline, the pride, it saved a lot of people,” said Duchossois.
After the war, Duchossois worked for a wagon manufacturing company and began to build his business empire. Arlington Park Race Track became its crown jewel.
He would need the resilience he learned during the war, when tragedy befell the track in 1985 as horse racing heaven was reduced to rubble.
It was Dick Duchossois who made the decision to rebuild the track, bigger and better. After being sold to Churchill Downs, the property can now be resold and redesigned as the new home of the Chicago Bears.
Throughout Duchossois’ life, giving back has been a goal his children and grandchildren continue to pursue to this day.
“You learn discipline. You learn: You don’t always win but 2n/a the place is not good enough, so come back and try again,” said Duchossois.
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