Our Founder

Chester E. Dekko

Our foundation is the legacy of Mr. Chester E. (Chet) Dekko.

Mr. Dekko was born in 1925 in the town of Ada, Minnesota.  His development was shaped by the love of a close-knit family and the realities of the Great Depression. Mr. Dekko’s experiences forged in him a dedication to family and a certainty that education, hard work and self-reliance were the keys to a life of independence and choice.

In 1952 Mr. Dekko and a partner (Mr. Lyall Morrill) took on the significant personal and financial risk of starting a manufacturing business. Employing their similar convictions and work ethic, the partners’ risk paid off as their business grew to be one of the largest privately-held operations in northeast Indiana.   The partners manufactured wire harnesses—components used in lighting and automotive industries to mention a few.

In 1981, Mr. Dekko used his proceeds from that business venture to start the Dekko Foundation. As he considered how he might leave a legacy, Mr. Dekko consulted friends and family, and studied the wisdom of our country’s founding fathers and contemporary thought leaders such as Milton and Rose Friedman.  Again his convictions played a part in his decision making, as:

Mr. Dekko chose for his foundation the mission of fostering economic freedom through education.

Mr. Dekko passed away in 1992, but his vision continues through his foundation.  Each investment we make is designed to help young people gain skills, and knowledge and character that will prepare them for the kind of life to which Mr. Dekko aspired:   One that offers the maximum opportunity for personal independence and choice.


Watch a video about Mr. Dekko and his life.