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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

ROSHEK, Thomas Bancroft, Jr.

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

ROSHEK, Tom Bancroft Jr. (Dubuque, IA, Apr. 4, 1943--Dallas, TX, Nov. 29th, 2020) The son of Thomas B. Roshek, Sr. and Betty Roshek Richardson, of Dubuque, Tom graduated from Shattuck School, of Faribault, Minnesota, and attended the University of Denver. He served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. (1)

As a young boy, Tom enjoyed roaming the floors of ROSHEK'S DEPARTMENT STORE and spending countless hours on the MISSISSIPPI RIVER with his parents, siblings, cousins and friends. He developed an affinity for waterskiing barefoot, which was NOT easy with a size 6 foot. As he grew older, TOM enjoyed piloting towboats (especially the Ann King operated by the Mid-America Transportation Company) up and down the river and through the locks. (2)

Fordalac. Photo courtesy: Tom Roshek, Jr.

In 1959 when Tom turned sixteen, his father gave him a 1953 Ford Victoria with a 1953 Cadillac engine and hydro-matic transmission. The "Fordalac" was constructed by John William RILEY and David POWERS who had helped Tom, Sr. with his racing boat motors. (3) According to Tom, "I don't know of a faster street machine in DBQ at the time." Roshek, Powers and Riley collaborated as a team for several years. While Riley remained the master mechanic, Roshek learned to drive from Powers. (4) In 1964, the team won a national championship for super-charged coupes. The car, a Fiat, was driven by Roshek. Six weeks later, however, the car constructed to fit Roshek blew-up during a race. Roshek survived the accident, but chose to refocus his racing to other fields. He had a keen interest in NHRA drag racing and in his later years loved spending time in his Shelby Cobra complete with original 427 side oiler. When not piloting a towboat or racing a car, you could find Tom at the DUBUQUE SHOOTING SOCIETY (990 Club) or at DUBUQUE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB. (5)

Tom married Jann Sue Kluck, of Dubuque, in 1976. They returned to the Mississippi for their honeymoon, piloting their houseboat up to Minneapolis where they would soon live for the next six years to start a family. He was offered a sales position at Flexsteel Industries Inc. and decided to relocate down south to Dallas, where he would spend the next 36 years. (6)

In Dallas as a young dad, “Big Tom” would be found on the baseball or softball fields helping coach during every practice or making sure the field conditions were up to his standards. It would be no surprise to find him on a riding mower in the outfield or picking up rocks in the infield ensuring the fields were perfect. He was always behind the video camera in the stands videoing his children, cheering them on, and beaming with pride. Nightly family dinners were a must and the tradition turned into Sunday family dinners when he became “Pop-Pop” to his grandchildren. Tom playfully started referring to his family as the “Griswolds” during those Sunday family dinners, and the name stuck. He loved to barbecue ribs and “k-bobs” with his wife and have the whole clan over to enjoy. A highlight every year was family vacations to his favorite place, Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. (7)

David Powers, Tom Roshek, John Riley at Alton, Illinois in the summer of 1963. Roshek was learning how to drive a drag car. Photo courtesy: Tom Roshek
Tom Roshek at Alton, Illinois--the first time on the track. Photo courtesy: Tom Roshek
World Champion Italian Fiat 1964 at MK Matic in Dubuque. Photo courtesy: Tom Roshek
Fiat on display at BIRD CHEVROLET. Photo courtesy: Tom Roshek
Fiat at the Dubuque Marina after the first test run on Kerper Blvd. Photo courtesy: Tom Roshek
Photo contributed by Tom Roshek
Tom Roshek with Powers & Riley world's fastest wedge powered A/A Fuel Dragster A/AFD. Photo taken by James SHAFFER and contributed by Tom Roshek.



1. Obituaries, Telegraph Herald, December 13, 2020 Online: https://www.telegraphherald.com/obituaries/article_477b1c1a-2164-58c4-8633-556ec400f4a0.html

2. Ibid.

3. Obituary

4. John Riley (interview)

5. Tom Roshek (interview)

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.