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Ted Utchen Had a Huge Heart and Is Making the World a Better Place. Still.

Ted Utchen Had a Huge Heart and Is Making the World a Better Place. Still.

Theodore M. (Ted) Utchen was a man with a big heart and a passion on his sleeve. He cared deeply about DuPage County, its people and its organizations, belonging to many, including DuPage Foundation. Ted was a donor to DuPage Foundation for more than 20 years and now, his legacy will live on in perpetuity with his bequest of $120,000.

Passing on March 4, 2021, at 91, Ted’s trust distribution included $100,000 to DuPage Foundation for a field-of-interest fund for people with disabilities; $10,000 for DuPage Foundation’s Warrenville Public Library Designated Fund; and $10,000 unrestricted for DuPage Foundation which will support the strategic plan implementation.

Ted’s distributions totaled $4 million to many national and local organizations including:
•    College of DuPage Foundation
•    Cosley Zoo Foundation
•    DuPage Symphony Orchestra
•    Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra
•    Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
•    Glen Oaks Hospital Foundation
•    Marianjoy Foundation
•    Marklund Charities
•    Morton Arboretum
•    North Central College
•    Philip J. Rock Center
•    WDCB
•    WDSRA
•    Wheaton College
•    Wheaton Public Library 

Ted’s professional life was also remarkable. For 22 years, he was with the Miami Corporation, DuPage Foundation co-founder Brooks McCormick’s family office. In 1990, he retired as Vice President and General Counsel. Prior to that he had been with The Northern Trust and other organizations working in the legal profession, after serving as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict until 1955.

Ted was also known as “The Dictionary Man” because of his involvement with The Dictionary Project. He delighted in visiting third grade classrooms in the area and donating dictionaries to the students. Numerous newspaper articles have been published about this activity Ted deemed critical to the continuing development of every student. In a recent Facebook post, The Dictionary Project estimated over 16 years Ted had placed 23,100 dictionaries since 2002 into the hands of youngsters in DuPage County, paying for each copy himself.

Ted was a careful reader and fearsome organizational watchdog. Over the years, he frequently communicated with Foundation staff about everything from the quality of the newsletter to the success of the annual benefit and other events. He once wrote, “I consider myself a meticulous Protector of the King’s English, and I always read with red pen in hand.”

Ted was well known to many in DuPage County who are involved with civic organizations. In addition to the support listed above, his bequest included funds to help the disabled, those with vision impairment or blindness, animals and organizations that support freedom of expression as well as history and the arts. 

Most fittingly, Ted was a supporter of DuPage Foundation’s Legacy Society. He wanted people in the community to know so “it might make them think about their estate plan and a possible gift to the Foundation,” as he wrote to staff in 2000.

Fittingly, the Dictionary Man has the last word with a gift to be honored as he wished to continue the work he did for the good of his community.

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