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In Memoriam: Roland Droitsch, Devoted Public Servant, Champion of Education

June 12, 2024

Roland Droitsch
Roland Droitsch

Roland Droitsch ’65 M.A. (PSc) emigrated to the U.S. from war-torn Germany when he was a young boy in January 1947. His mother boarded the S.S. Drottninholm with him and his sister, Ingrid, to seek refuge from World War II. German immigrants weren’t often met with kindness stateside at the time, but the family found support from a New York family that set an example of compassion, generosity and service.

In a 2022 interview for National Public Radio’s StoryCorps, Droitsch, then 81, told his daughter Danielle that the family’s caring and insistence that he continue his education, was a “huge page turner” in his life, inspiring a distinguished career in public service. “I wanted to give back,” he said in the interview, archived with the Library of Congress. “I started having a job at a bank. That certainly showed me that wasn’t a place for me. I wanted a place where I could help other people. That’s when I joined the government.”

Droitsch, who served as the deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Labor, passed away in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 26, 2024. He was 82. His life was defined by resilience, warmheartedness and a steadfast dedication to family and career. After earning a master’s degree from the Maxwell School, he received a doctorate from Georgetown University. His government roles included service at the Office of the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations and at the Policy Planning Office of the Cost of Living Council. He 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 Philip Arnow Award, the highest honor presented to Department of Labor staff.

His passion for education was evident in collaborations between the Department of Labor and community colleges, the military, nonprofits and academia.

Published in the Spring 2024 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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