Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and ardent supporter of The ALS Association Richard P. (Dick) Essey was presented with The Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday evening, during the 2013 National ALS Day and Public Policy Conference awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C.
Over the years, Dick Essey and his wife of 50 years, Sheila, supported many worthy causes; however, when Sheila was diagnosed with ALS, they turned their attention toward the disease that took the life of New York Yankee slugger, Lou Gehrig.
“To get up to speed on what ALS was and ensure that more local services were available for people living with ALS, Dick organized and launched The Greater Bay Area Chapter—now part of the Golden West Chapter,” said Andrew Brophy, a former member of The ALS Association National Board of Trustees and current member of the Chairman’s Council, who presented the award. “And Dick didn’t stop there. In 1995, he joined The Association’s National Board of Trustees, and nearly twenty years later, continues to participate in committee calls and discussions.”
To further the cause of ALS research, Essey became involved with the American Academy of Neurology and played a significant role as a trustee and contributor. Then in 1996, the Sheila Essey Award for ALS Research was established jointly by the American Academy of Neurology and The ALS Association, rewarding its recipients for “significant research contributions in the search for the cause, prevention of, and cure for ALS.” Funded by The Essey Family Fund at the San Francisco Foundation, this award is presented each year at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Neurology and has received much acclaim in the ALS and greater scientific communities.
In 1962, with Sheila at his side, Dick Essey established TemPositions, a full-service staffing agency that has helped place more than 100,000 in all kinds of jobs. Passing on the entrepreneurial gene to his children, his son Jim and daughter Tina have helped continue the legacy of the business. While Jim continues as an executive at TemPosition, Tina has now launched her own clothing business. Both children are a source of great pride for their father.
In addition to his participation with ALS related causes, Dick has served on the boards of other prominent organizations including the San Francisco Senior Center, the San Francisco City Club, and he is trustee emeritus of the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums. “Family, hard work and community involvement all play important roles in Dick’s life,” said Brophy.
“Sheila battled ALS courageously for ten years, and while this award honors her memory and keeps her alive in our hearts, it also stands as a hallmark for the most innovative and rigorous ALS research,” continued Brophy. Last month, the Sheila Essey Award was presented to Drs. Rosa Rademakers and Bryan Traynor, who independently identified a mutation on Chromosome 9 that causes ALS. This mutation accounts for up to 40 percent of all familial cases of ALS and up to 7 percent of sporadic ALS, making it the most common cause of the disease. It is also responsible for approximately 50 percent of cases of familial Frontal Temporal Dementia. This is truly a landmark discovery in ALS research and brings us even closer to finding more answers and potential therapies.
Dick Essey’s remarkable philanthropic approach to The ALS Association is truly in the spirit of being “full mission directed.” His support of ALS awareness and advocacy efforts are driven by his creative recommendations and his entrepreneurial drive. He is always asking questions about how what we can learn from our peers and from other non-profit organizations. His commitment to serving ALS patients and families is exemplified by his involvement in The Association’s chapter network. While his legacy will live on in the many facets of his family’s philanthropic work, he is extremely proud of The Sheila Essey Award and what it is bringing to the ALS research community. Dick Essey and his family have supported The ALS Association with more than $1 million dollars in financial support.
The ALS Association is proud to honor Dick Essey and remember his wife, Sheila, with this lifetime achievement award and is eternally grateful for the contributions they have made to help The Association create a world without ALS.