Foundation History

Humble Beginnings

The son of Italian immigrants, Ross D. Siragusa was a true entrepreneur. He began his electronics business with almost no capital in the depth of the Depression and built it over the years until it had become one of the largest consumer electronics and appliance businesses in the world. This multi-talented businessman did not even have the advantage of a college education. His intelligence and drive to succeed were sufficient assets.

One of Siragusa’s key strengths was product development, according to his business colleagues. He had a keen ability to sense what the public would buy and then had Admiral’s engineers design the product. He also was not afraid to take risks. For example, he directed a major effort to produce affordable television sets immediately after World War II, a move that allowed Admiral to join the big league of electronics manufacturers. By 1974, Admiral had grown into a worldwide enterprise. That year Rockwell International Corporation acquired Admiral and the family was no longer involved.

In celebration of over 50 years of giving and in honor of its founder, the Siragusa Family Foundation published a memorial to the life of Ross D. Siragusa in 2001.  We invite you to learn more about the foundation by reading about the professional and personal life of our benefactor.

Read more about Ross D. Siragusa.

Building for a Brighter Future

Ross D. Siragusa had a history of civic responsibility and charitable giving long before the founding of the Siragusa Family Foundation. He served as board member of Goodwill Industries and was an early supporter of WTTW, Chicago’s public television station. His love of music led him to accept a position on the board of directors of the Lyric Opera of Chicago during its formative years and to make generous contributions in support of Lyric’s operations and growth. He also made generous contributions of the Illinois Institute of Technology over a number of years.

50 Year Anniversary

The year 1999 was recognized as a landmark by the foundation’s board of directors. In celebration of almost 50 years of giving and in honor of Ross D. Siragusa, his first wife Irene O’Brien Siragusa, and their daughter Mary Irene Siragusa Hicks, the Siragusa Family Foundation board announced a major gift to ten Chicago-area organizations. A pledge of $10 million over four years, beginning in 2000, was given to The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, Children’s Memorial Hospital, The Cradle, The Field Museum, John G. Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park, The Newberry Library, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. These organizations were chosen because of their programs in education, outreach and medical research. The foundation’s work was recognized by the National Society of Fundraising Executives Chicago Chapter (now known as the Association of Fundraising Professionals) with the 1999 Distinguished Philanthropist Award.

A philanthropic partner of nonprofits to improve communities throughout the Chicago region

Through its giving, the Siragusa Family Foundation seeks to fulfill its mission of supporting efforts that help people help themselves and experience a better quality of life.