Donald P. Dupont, 89, of Dubuque, and formerly of Phoenix, Az. and Palatine, Ill., passed away in his home on Saturday, June 29 with family at his side.
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Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, 2001 St. Joseph Street, Dubuque. Fr. Paul Attah-Nsiah will officiate. A visitation will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday, July 8, 2019 at the Egelhof, Siegert & Casper Westview Funeral Home and Crematory, 2659 John F. Kennedy Road, in Dubuque. Interment will be at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Dubuque, where there will be a flag presentation by the Dubuque Marine Corps League.
Don was a Dubuque boy who travelled the world during his 38 years with the international accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Co., and he was one of nine Phoenix Civic Leaders who founded the Fiesta Bowl—now a host of the National College Football Championship Game—in 1971.
He began his four decades at Andersen as an auditor in the Small Business Division of the firm’s Home Office in Chicago from 1953 to 1969, where he made Manager in 1959 and became a Partner in 1966.
Don was then promoted to Managing Partner of the firm’s Phoenix office from 1969 to 1982, where he directed a massive business expansion that tripled the size of the office staff from 75 to 225 employees.
He finished his career at Andersen’s World Headquarters in Chicago, where from 1982 until his retirement in 1990, he oversaw 85,000 world-wide employees as Managing Director of Personnel.
In that role, he attended global planning meetings in Zurich, Switzerland, participated in Far East business expansions in places like Thailand and Indonesia, and fought for upgraded daycare and eldercare programs to improve the retention rates of Andersen’s female employees.
But it all began in Dubuque. Don was the eldest of four children (he had 3 sisters) born to Ralph and Margaret (Kintzle) Dupont on August 7, 1929.
Ralph was a woodworker who helped construct Eagle Point Park while with the WPA, He later ran a small grocery in the 1950’s on what is now Pennsylvania Avenue, and then owned and operated the Y Motel on Highway 20 West with Marge for two decades.
Don attended Nativity grade school and then graduated from Loras Academy in 1947, where he was on the Honor Roll all four years. He was also Class President in his senior year, and he was Lt. Col. and Battalion Commander of the school’s ROTC.
Don joined the boxing team at Loras—he wanted to wrestle, but the school had no team—and he became an undefeated Golden Gloves boxing champion who never lost a fight in three years at 112 pounds, as noted by the Encyclopedia Dubuque.
He lacked knockout power, but Don was such a fast and entertaining fighter that his Flyweight matches were often the Main Event during regional summertime exhibition fight cards in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.
His life’s biggest regret came in 1947 when Golden Gloves boxing returned to Iowa, and Don won the 112-pound title as a 17-year-old Senior at Loras. He was unable to compete in the National Golden Glove Championships in Chicago because the dates conflicted with his Senior Retreat, and Loras leaders convinced him he had to attend the retreat as Class President.
The fighter he defeated for the Iowa title—who was several years older—went to Chicago in his place and finished 2nd at Nationals.
Don’s academic work at Loras Academy earned him the award of Highest Distinction—which his classmate Fr. John Friedell won as well—and Don was one of five Academy graduates to receive a tuition scholarship to Loras College.
He supplemented his scholarship money by working at Stampfer’s Department Store during his high school and college years. Stampfer’s was Dubuque’s oldest department store, founded in 1855, and in 1908 it moved into a new four-story building at 800-847 Main, according to Encyclopedia Dubuque.
Don initially worked at Stampfer’s produce farm before eventually moving into the main building as a 4th-floor stockboy.
He earned his accounting degree at Loras College in 1951, where he played intramural sports, ran the 2-mile, and was a member of the National Honor Society. He was also one of 14 seniors chosen to represent Loras in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.”
During his college summers, Don played Town Ball in the Prairie League on the Asbury Phils, where he was one of three Loras students who served as ringers on the otherwise all-local team. He played catcher and shortstop for the Phils, and occasionally pitched in a pinch.
After college graduation, Don served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953, and he was stationed in Tokyo during the Korean Conflict. He continued to serve in the Reserve Corps on standby until 1960.
When he returned from the military, Don accepted an accounting job with Arthur Andersen in Chicago. His original plan was to work there two years, and then return to Dubuque to open up his own practice. But the opportunities were so great with Andersen that he never left.
The other thing Don did when he got back from Japan was tell all his friends that he would be married within a year, even though he didn’t have the specific candidate lined up yet.
But he was as good as his word. In October 1954, he married Janet M. Bahl of Asbury, who was the sister of a teammate on the Asbury Phils, and whom he met at their Sunday games. Together, they had two boys and two girls, and were married for 40 years until Janet died of pancreatic cancer in 1995.
They started their life together in an Italian neighborhood of Chicago and bought their first home in the northwest suburb of Palatine in 1959. A decade later, Andersen transferred them to Phoenix.
While running Andersen’s Phoenix office, Don threw himself into civic life. Andersen became a significant contributor and recruiter at Arizona State University’s School of Accountancy. The school established a Don Dupont Faculty Excellence Award in his honor.
He was also the local President of Junior Achievement, which mentors high-school students in business-related projects, and he was Chairman of the Foundation for Senior Adult Living.
But Don’s single biggest civic involvement—and the milestone that gave him the most satisfaction in his professional career—was his collaboration with eight other Phoenix business leaders to create the Fiesta Bowl in 1971.
That multi-year effort came at a time when there were just a handful of NCAA-approved Post-Season College Football Bowl Games, and only one—the Rose Bowl in California—played in the Western half of the country. And the NCAA had very little interest in starting a new one.
Phoenix hotelier Jack Stewart, whose Camelback Inn Resort was an Andersen client, invited Don to join the small group pursuing the Bowl when he learned of his interest in athletics. Don became Treasurer of the group, and his Andersen office got the Bowl its not-for-profit status and contributed all of the early accounting work.
Against all odds, and with the help of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell and the philanthropic promise to plow Bowl profits into the fight against substance abuse, the Fiesta Bowl group finally won NCAA approval.
The rest is history. Coming up on its 50th Anniversary, the Fiesta Bowl is inarguably Arizona’s most successful civic venture of the past half-century. It has hosted several National Championship Games, and, according to its website, the Fiesta Bowl has generated an estimated $2.75 billion for Arizona’s economy over the past 12 years and it has contributed $12.5 million to charitable causes over the last 8 years.
Don was Fiesta Bowl President in 1979-1980, and he invited the University of Arizona to make their first appearance in the Bowl. It was also around that time he made his most important impact on what became The Little Bowl That Could.
The Fiesta Bowl was offered a multi-year contract to match the second-place teams from the Big Ten and Pac-10 Conferences in their annual game. It was a prestigious offer that guaranteed a huge television audience, but it would come at the sacrifice of the Bowl’s independence to select its own teams.
Don cast the tie-breaking vote to turn down that contract. That decision to retain the Bowl’s independence allowed the Fiesta Bowl to stage National Championship Games between Penn State and Miami in 1987 and Notre Dame and West Virginia in 1989. Those games cemented the Fiesta Bowl’s national standing and reputation.
When Don was promoted to Andersen’s World Headquarters in 1982, he and Janet returned to Palatine, settling into a century-old historic home near the old downtown. Their house was one of five homes featured in the Palatine Historical Society’s House and Garden Tour in 1998.
When Don retired from Andersen in 1990, Janet encouraged him to become more active in Palatine civic affairs. She ran his campaign to get him elected to the Palatine Public Library Board, where his business acumen was essential for the site selection and construction of the new Main Library.
He was also the chairman of Vision in Progress, a civic organization that worked to place a new community center in Palatine’s under-served north side.
In 2009, Don was one of four community volunteers added to the Palatine Park District’s Honor Roll—the District’s “highest honor,” its executive director said—for years of contribution to the community. He was also specifically cited for “the vision, leadership, planning and hard work that led to the creation of what grew to become the Palatine Opportunity Center.”
In 2012, Don moved back to Dubuque to be closer to his sister Shirley, Janet’s surviving brothers and sisters, and his classmates from high school and college. But in another sense, he had never really been gone.
Throughout his years in Chicago and Phoenix, Don continued to maintain strong ties to Dubuque, especially to his alma mater. He was a member of the Loras College Board of Regents for 18 years, and Board Chairman from 1984 to 1987.
Don was also given the Loras College Distinguished Alumni Award in 1990, he was designated a Loras “Regent Emeritus” in 1999, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 2001.
In a letter to the Dupont family, Loras College President Jim Collins said, “Your Dad was very engaged with Loras. He and your Mom contributed annually since he graduated from Loras in 1951. They made a major gift to every campaign the College launched. His leadership allowed Loras to achieve much success in the following building projects: Alumni Campus Center, Byrne Oaks Apartment Complex, Keane Hall renovations, and Rock Bowl Stadium.”
Collins also wrote, “Your father helped to hire a number of Loras graduates at Arthur Andersen, and he hosted numerous Loras Alumni gatherings in Arizona, Chicago and Dubuque. He attended almost every Alumni function Loras hosted, including many annual homecomings. Upon his advice, I created a President’s Advisory Council, and he served as its founding Chair. Though he had to cancel out of the last couple of meetings, he was an active participant up to his passing.”
Don was also closely connected with the Sisters of the Visitation, where he served as an Advisory Board Member and volunteer financial consultant. His ties to that group were based on his warm and enduring friendship with Sr. Bernadine Curoe.
Don is survived by his sister, Patricia Lange of Rockford, Ill.; his daughters, Anne Dupont of Centennial, Colo. and Jill Dupont of Duluth, Minn., and sons, Michael Dupont of Albuquerque, NM and Mark Dupont of Chicago, Ill.; his granddaughters, Kaitlin (Thomas) Boileau of San Jose, Cal. and Maureen Phenix of Ft. Collins, Colo.; and in-laws Betty Allen, Nita Betts, Mary O’Hea, Charles Bahl, Joseph (Susan) Bahl, Tom (Wendy) Bahl, and Verne Wilson, all of the Dubuque area, along with many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife Janet and her parents, Joseph and Vi Bahl, and Joe’s second wife, Marie; his parents, Ralph and Marge; his sisters Bette Dale and Shirley Bahl; his sister-in-law Susan (Bahl) Wilson; his brothers-in-law, Robert Allen, Robert Betts, Del O’Hea, Edward Lange, and Jack Dale; his nieces, Michelle Bahl, Karen Lange, and Jean (Bahl) Kliebenstein-Koren; and his nephews John Allen, Doug Bahl, and Gary Betts.
Don’s family extends heartfelt thanks to Jean Ough and the other caregivers and staff of Home Instead, and nurse Shirley and the staff of Hospice of Dubuque for the excellent care they provided to Don.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Don’s memory be made to the Loras Fund, 1450 Alta Vista Street, Dubuque, IA 52001 or the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, 700 Locust Street Suite 195, Dubuque, IA 52001.