Cover photo for Roland Gustav Droitsch's Obituary
1941 Roland Gustav Droitsch 2024

Roland Gustav Droitsch

November 17, 1941 — January 27, 2024

Salt Lake City

On January 26, 2024, Roland Gustav Frederich Johann Droitsch, affectionately known as "Rugga" by those who loved him, passed away peacefully in Salt Lake City, Utah. Born in Berlin, Germany, on November 17, 1941, to Anna and Gustav Droitsch, Roland's life was defined by resilience, warmheartedness, and a steadfast dedication to family and career. He truly cared about others, and many of his friends and colleagues have reached out recently to share how profoundly he touched their lives with his constant drive to help. Roland believed in the goodness of people and had the remarkable ability to make anyone he spoke to feel like the most important person in the world. His ever-present cheerful grin mirrored the joy he found in life, and his infectious curiosity left a mark on those fortunate enough to know him.

Roland's story in America began when he arrived in New York City aboard the USS Drottningholm with his mother and sister Ingrid on January 25, 1947 seeking refuge from the turmoil of the Second World War. His mother secured employment at the Rokeby estate, built in 1815 on the Hudson River and belonging to the Aldrich family, descendants of Alida Livingston. Roland found a home and life-long friendships with the three Aldrich children, Richard or "Ricky", Winty and Rosalind. For his entire life, Roland held the 400-acre estate and the Aldrich family close to his heart.

After graduating from Canterbury (Class of 1959) and Columbia College (Class of 1963), Roland pursued his academic passions, continuing on to earn a Masters Degree in political science from the Maxwell School of Public Administration at Syracuse University in 1966 and a Ph.D. in economics from Georgetown in 1976.

His distinguished 30+ year career included roles at Chase Manhattan Bank before dedicating himself to public service. In the early stages of his government career, he served at the Office of the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations and the Policy Planning Office of the Cost of Living Council. Roland joined the Department of Labor under then-Secretary John Dunlop in 1975. Over the years, his dedication and leadership earned recognition, including the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive in 1988 and the prestigious Philip Arnow Award, the highest honor presented to Department of Labor staff.

In his career role as Deputy Assistant Secretary to the U.S. Department of Labor, Roland left a significant mark on policies, systems, and applications that continue to benefit American workers and businesses. His leadership was instrumental in shaping agency rules, guidelines, and opinions. Roland oversaw policy reviews, ensuring a consistent and organized process department-wide, and initiated important deliberations on various proposals related to workforce health, safety, compensation, classification, and training.

Roland's visionary approach enabled the agency to leverage the internet, connecting its essential work to the American public and businesses. He played a key role in developing the web-based application called elaws Advisors. Roland ensured the evolution of these interactive e-tools that provide clear, accurate, and accessible information about federal employment laws.

Roland's passion for education was evident in collaborations between the Department of Labor and various entities, including federal agencies, community colleges, the military, nonprofits and academia. He played a crucial role in advancing groundbreaking initiatives such as the Advanced Distributed Learning C-Laboratory (ADL Co-Lab) and Workforce Connections, contributing significantly to the nationwide progress of distance learning. His commitment to education extended to mentoring and encouraging staff, recognizing their unique strength and committing his time to help them advance further in their education and careers.

In his personal life, Roland was deeply dedicated to his family. He married Helen on June 25, 1966, and they welcomed two beloved daughters, Danielle and Nicole. Despite parting ways in 1988, Roland and Helen stayed close, their connection strengthening in the last years of his life in Salt Lake City, Utah. Roland also maintained a lifelong connection to his dear sister Ingrid and her husband Lazlo Jurak and their son Christian Jurak.

Roland's love extended to his stepchildren, Ria and Gabrielle, from his second marriage to Leah Riesner. He was especially delighted by and proud of his grandchildren, Callahan, Charlie, Eleanor, Ada Mae, and Abraham, who brought deep joy and laughter to his later years.

He had a deep passion for classical music, and learned to play the violin early in his life to indulge in the music he loved. He often brought his violin to the office and played at family events. In the final five years of his life, Roland continued taking violin lessons from Collette Cook and played until the last months of his life.

In 2009, Roland faced a traumatic brain injury while vacationing in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Despite the challenges, he recovered enough to live another 14 years, during which he immersed himself in a profound love for reading, classical music, and history. Family and friends will always remember and cherish Roland's playful and witty personality, as he shared jokes and found humor whenever possible. In the final years of his life, Roland found great joy and peace as he rekindled deep connections with his first wife Helen and their daughters Danielle and Nicole in Salt Lake City, Utah, and their family gatherings became the cornerstone of his later years.

Throughout his life, Roland was deeply committed to the Catholic Church and actively participated in St. Vincent de Paul Parish during his time in Salt Lake City. The family is grateful for the visits and support from Deacon Jeff Allen, especially in Roland's final days. The Droitsch family extends our heartfelt thanks to Roland's dedicated care team-Lauren Swing, Amalia Reynoso, Lauren Coulter, and Lara Rice-as well as the staff at Legacy Sugarhouse and Suncrest Hospice in Salt Lake City for their unwavering support, friendship, and comfort especially during his last months.

In lieu of flowers, the family would suggest donations to two of Roland's passions: animals and the environment. Please consider donations to two of his favorite charities: Best Friends Animal Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A memorial service will be held Thursday March 7 at 1:30 MT/3:30 pm ET at Legacy Sugarhouse Village, 1212 E. Wilmington Ave., Salt Lake City, Utah (Fairmont Room, 5th Floor). We welcome people to join this memorial service by zoom by registering at this link: https://droitsch.com/memorial. Please contact Danielle Droitsch (rsvp@droitsch.com) if you plan to attend in person.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Roland Gustav Droitsch, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Thursday, March 7, 2024

1:30 - 3:30 pm (Mountain time)

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