The sitting president of the Arlington Heights Senior Center Advisory Council, who was recognized in the senior community as a leader and visionary, has died.
Frank DeRosa was honored twice over the last 10 years for his activism on behalf of seniors in Arlington Heights. He won an award for volunteerism at the 2003 Hearts of Gold dinner and in 2010 won the Dr. Kenneth Hood Award for enhancing the of lives of seniors.
DeRosa died Thursday. He was 89.
"He was fiercely patriotic, with an unwavering sense of right and wrong," said Karen Hansen, director of the senior center. "He exemplified the kind of men that came out of the 'Greatest Generation' and he set that benchmark even higher."
DeRosa was an original member of the 793rd Military Police Battalion, activated in 1942. He served in the European theater with Gen. George Patton, providing security in France, Belgium and finally in Germany.
When DeRosa returned from the war, he built a career in commercial sales for NBC Television. He and his wife, Dolores, raised their three children in Arlington Heights, including his son, Frank, who is a retired principal of Elk Grove High School.
But DeRosa never forgot his military service. Just last November he was invited by the current commander of the 793rd to address the battalion during its deployment ceremony at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.
"It was very difficult," DeRosa said at the time. "What can you say to young men and women being deployed to a war zone?"
In the end, he read from a letter he had saved, sent by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to each member of the 793rd MP Battalion just prior to boarding the Queen Elizabeth in February 1944.
At the end of his remarks, he ad-libbed something of his own: "Cover your back, cover each other's backs and come home safely."
In an emotional farewell he then shook hands with every soldier and wished them well.
Besides his son, De Rosa is survived by his wife and daughters Susan (John) Palombi and Diane (Joseph) De Rosa-Reynolds, as well as eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Services have been held.