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In Memoriam: Roger Fross, Foundation Chairman 2012-2017


2/19/2021

The Joyce Foundation mourns the loss of Roger Raymond Fross, a former chairman and longtime board member who played a central role in helping shape what the Foundation is today.

Fross, a prominent Chicago attorney, was a Foundation board member for nearly three decades, joining in 1989. He chaired the board from 2012 to 2017, when the Foundation developed our current focus on racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. The new strategy, announced in 2018, also included the expansion of our Gun Violence Prevention program to include criminal justice reform and a renewed focus on voting rights and redistricting in the Democracy program.

Among his fellow board members and Joyce staff, he was known for his deep commitment to the Foundation’s work and his efforts to protect the environment around the Great Lakes. He also was a fervent proponent of the Foundation’s investments in reducing gun violence, reaching back to the early 1990s. In a 2018 history of the Foundation, compiled to mark our 70th anniversary, he said it was important for Joyce to champion this work in those early days because of the tremendous impact gun violence had on quality of life for many in the Great Lakes region.

“When gun violence [prevention] was not popular, we were in it. When it became popular, we’re still in it,” he said. “We haven’t bowed to the mood of the day. If we see a problem that needed addressing, we addressed it. If we thought there was value in putting forth our effort, we put it forth.”

In addition to his service on the Joyce board, he also served on the board of the South East Chicago Commission, the Chicago Bar Association Committee on Juvenile Delinquents and Adolescent Offenders and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.

In his professional life, Fross was a managing partner at the law firm Lord, Bissell and Brook, now Locke Lord. He was an attorney in Chicago’s famous Shakman case, which led to a series of court-enforced decrees prohibiting political patronage in the hiring and firing of government employees.

Fross passed away on February 16, 2021.