Dick Duesenberg ’51, ’53 J.D., ’01H, passed away on August 19, 2023. A great friend to Valparaiso University and a dedicated supporter of promoting our Lutheran heritage, the impact of the contributions made by Dick and his wife, Phyllis, cannot be overstated.
He completed his undergraduate studies in 1951 and earned his juris doctorate degree from Valparaiso University Law School in 1953 before obtaining his master of laws degree from Yale University in 1956. He started his career as a professor of law at New York University in 1956. He joined the law department of the Monsanto Corporation in 1962 and, from 1977 to 1995, served as their senior vice president, general counsel and secretary.
Dick served on the Valparaiso University Board of Directors from 1977 to 2006 as an emeritus member. In 1976, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award and in 2006 was awarded the Lumen Christi Medal — Valpo’s highest honor given in recognition of service to church and society. The University presented Dick with an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2001.
Dick’s dedication to the University can be seen across campus. He and Phyllis established multiple endowed University chairs, including The Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Religion and the Arts, in Lutheran Music, in Christian Ethics, in the Law School (repurposed to now support the Lutheran Summer Music Program), and in French Language and Culture.
Their generosity funded the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Welcome Center at the south entrance of campus, and their dedication and drive were instrumental in creating the Kade-Duesenberg German House and Cultural Center and the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts. Their hope was for the facilities to assist the public positioning of the University and draw attention to its Lutheran heritage. They were dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and truth and exposure to the immense cultural heritage of the Lutheran movement in Christianity.
For more than 60 years, Dick and Phyllis served as a driving force in the growth and success of Valparaiso University. They served as honorary co-chairs of Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future, which exceeded its goal of $250 million and raised more than $302 million, and co-chairs of Three Goals, One Promise, which passed its $75 million goal.
Dick Duesenberg was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis Buehner ’54 Duesenberg ’04H, who passed away in June 2019 and is survived by four children — Karen Duesenberg Collier, Daryl R. Duesenberg ’82, Mark H. Duesenberg ’84, and Dr. David A. Duesenberg ’86.