For more than 50 years, Dr. Richard R. Dolezal exemplified Latin’s mission of pursuing purpose and excellence. An inspirational and gifted teacher, who shared his love for literature with generations of Latin students and a mentor and wise counselor to countless faculty, Dr. Dolezal was a Latin School institution who represented the best of the school.
In her introduction, when Dr. Dolezal was the recipient of the Shipp Award for excellence in teaching in 1988, close friend and colleague Linda Hennelly, summed up his place in our community.
“The best writer and the best speaker on a faculty rich in writers and speakers. He is, in and out of the classroom, the teacher we would all like to be. He has been, and is, the soul of our school, ” Hennelly said.
Dr. Dolezal came to the Latin School of Chicago as a young English teacher in 1960 after graduating from DePaul University. He retired from the classroom in June 2010 and officially left behind his book-lined office at Latin in June 2011. During his tenure he taught various English and American literature courses served the school as middle and upper school head, English Department chair, director of studies and dean of faculty. In later years, Dr. Dolezal shared the classroom with colleagues including Ingrid Dorer Fitzpatrick and Steve Sommers, teaching interdisciplinary courses such as Classical Civ, Euro Civ and American Civ.
He was the favorite teacher for countless Latin students, who credit Dr. Dolezal with having had a huge impact on their lives.
“I can safely say that no teacher in my life impacted me as much as Dr. Dolezal,” wrote Jeremy Baskin ’82, in one of the many emails the school has received over the last two days from alumni throughout the country. “Dr. Dolezal’s passion for literature, his high expectations of students on many dimensions, his grace and compassion continue to inspire me as a boss, colleague, parent, friend and, husband. While I am very saddened by his passing, I am so grateful for having had privilege of studying with and knowing this great teacher and friend.”
Dr. Dolezal’s English classes were so popular that they were always over-selected and fellow faculty frequently chose to audit them. He loved classical music, chocolate and Jelly Beans and was a familiar sight around the school in his blue and burgundy cardigans.
For many years, Dr. Dolezal also was in charge of welcoming teachers at the beginning of each school year with words of inspiration and he was the person the school turned to in difficult times such as September 11.
When he received the Karen Sue Berger award for community service in 2002, fellow English teacher Billy Lombardo introduced him:
“For 42 years, Dr. Dolezal served our community and the community beyond. As priest, as teacher, as colleague, as mentor, as wise man, as administrator, as friend, and more. Dr. Dolezal has offered his life to the service of others. In times of difficulty he has been a soulful leader, and nonjudgmental listener. In a fast-paced place he has been a calming presence. In times of decision he has been a wise counselor. And for my part, he has served Latin in a way no other person has, but in a way many of us aspire to.”
Dr. Dolezal earned A.B. and M.A. degrees in English from DePaul University as well as a Ph.D. in English from Loyola University.
In addition to his teaching career, Dr. D. was ordained in 1976 as a Catholic priest in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. He held a M. Div. degree from the Catholic Theological Union. He was an associate pastor at St. James Church in Kenosha and most recently at St. Catherine Parish in Sharon, WI.
Since July, Dr. Dolezal was being cared for at St. Joseph Village in Chicago. He died Tuesday at the age of 76, surrounded by dear friends and much-loved former colleagues.Visitation
Friday, August 31
4 - 9 p.m.
Drake & Son Funeral Home
5303 North Western Avenue, Chicago Funeral Mass
Saturday, September 1
St. Alphonsus Catholic Church
1429 W. Wellington Avenue, Chicago
Interment following at St. Boniface Cemetery
4901 N. Clark Street, Chicago Honoring Dr. Dolezal at Latin
You are cordially invited to join the Latin community's celebration of Dr. Dolezal's life
Sunday, September 23 (Homecoming & Reunion Weekend)
1 - 2:30 p.m., reception to follow
Latin School of Chicago
59 W. North Blvd., Chicago
here. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Dolezal had requested donations be made to the Latin School of Chicago Endowed Scholarship Fund (Latin School of Chicago, 59 W. North Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610).
See additional information in today's Chicago Tribune
Dr. Dolezal had a lasting impact on the lives of so many in our school community. We would very much appreciate hearing about your memories of him. Please send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org