Publicly, Jack Roeser was known as the founder of the largest employer in Carpentersville and an ardent supporter of conservative causes, even running once for governor.
Privately, those who knew him well also knew his unbounded kindness, his son Otto Roeser said, recalling his father's zest for life.
"He loved, laughed, learned, danced, smiled, snorted, sang and drove like an absolute maniac," he told a crowd of about 300 mourners at a funeral service Tuesday.
Roeser, a Barrington resident who started Otto Engineering, died at age 90 on Friday from colon cancer.
A U.S. Army veteran, he always fought for the betterment of his country, his relatives remembered during the service at St. Catherine of Siena Church in West Dundee. Befittingly, services opened with the notes of "America" and ended with those of "America the Beautiful."
Jack Roeser was generous to a fault, his son said. "Without flinching, he gave everything he had to every cause and every person he believed in."
Otto Roeser also recalled that when asked why he wouldn't tire of trusting people -- despite getting burned at times -- his father replied: "If you lose faith in the world that's living around you, then you're in a world that's not worth living."
The funeral Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Thomas Dempsey, who said that to be close to God, one must make a difference in this world. Jack Roeser did -- "the beauty of Jack Roeser's life, its kindness and its goodness, that remains with all of us," Dempsey said.
Jack Roeser was among the earliest supporters of the Tea Party in Illinois. He ran for office once, when he unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Jim Edgar in the 1994 Republican primary.
He also was the founder and chairman of the Family Taxpayers Foundation, which advocated reform of the public education system.
"He believed that no one could live the American dream if you thought of yourself as a victim or if you did not have a proper education -- so he fought for that," said his son Tom Roeser, now president and CEO of Otto Engineering.
Jack Roeser also believed that in order to flourish, employees need the right tools and environment, Tom said.
Otto Engineering employees said Jack Roeser was universally well-liked.
"He was a great man," said Juanita Garcia, a 24-year employee. "He would always take care of his employees."
Jack Roeser visited the company often even after his retirement and never failed to say "hi" to everyone, said Mary Ross, who'll celebrate her 30th anniversary in April.
Ross also remembered his penchant for dancing.
"He always liked to dance with the women at the Christmas party. He would get up and dance to everything," she said.
Jack Roeser enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the Combat Engineers in the South Pacific.
"He also showed us love for this country -- he showed us this country was worth fighting for," his nephew Dave Roeser said.
"We need to pick up where Jack left off -- that's our great challenge."