Stanley Richard Dabrowski

–  12/03/2019


Stanley Richard Dabrowski, 81, of Chicago, died peacefully at home on December 3rd. Stan was born in Muskegon, Michigan on September 15, 1938, to Paul and Julia (Sepura) Dabrowski.A Lakesider, he attended and graduated from Bunker Junior High School and Muskegon Catholic High School. Early on, his academic interests included geography, history and geometry along with extracurricular pursuits involving art, music and sports. His first jobs included delivering newspapers (the Muskegon Chronicle), washing trucks and warehouse work with Canteen Vending, and working in the freezers and warehouse with Western Michigan Frozen Foods.

An avid baseball player, during high school and college, he pitched several years in the American Legion Baseball league. In his last year of eligibility, he threw three no-hitters and three one-hitters and earned a professional tryout with Toronto. Ultimately, major league baseball was a longshot in terms of a career choice, so Stan opted to pursue his interests in art and design.

In 1956,he moved to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute. He received several scholarships and worked part time to pay for his schooling. During his junior year he took a part-time design studio job connected with the Carson Pirie Scott company (Carson’s). Upon his graduation in 1960, Stan immediately began full time work with Carson’s as an interior designer working on projects related to the hotel industry, restaurants, office/commercial spaces and country clubs. During this time, Stan shared that he, “fell in love with Chicago.” Thus, it became his home for the next five decades.

In 1958, his friend Don Meyer set him up on a blind date with Kay Collins. They attended a football game between Stan’s beloved Detroit Lions and the College All Stars. Detroit lost the game, but Stan won the bride! He and Kay married on May 6, 1961 and spent 58 years together raising five children and welcoming 15 grandchildren.

From 1962 – 1964, Stan served his country in the US Army as a clarinetist in the Brooklyn Army band.  Stan described this as a “good gig” as he played in military parades and concerts, and honored troops in ceremonies marking their coming and going to Europe. In 1963, he had the honor of playing in a Labor Day ceremony where President John F. Kennedy was the speaker. Appreciation of Sousa marches and the Star-Spangled Banner remained with Stan forever.

After the Army, Stan returned to Chicago and took an interior designer/space planner position with the furniture company Herman Miller. While there, Stan consulted on major design projects across the country. Clients included Metropolitan Life Insurance, Atomic Energy Commission (Washington D.C.), Ford Motors, Kimberly Clark, and Cummings Diesel. He traveled extensively beginning in 1968 as Herman Miller launched a new phase of their design work accompanied with a new product line. Stan developed the interior design portion of this promotional work and presented it nationally to architects and designers. Portions of this work were also shared internationally.

Early on at Herman Miller, Stan negotiated with his boss that he would teach design courses a half day each week – making up his time with the company on evenings and weekends. This decision launched a second career for Stan; teaching. In 1971, Herman Miller asked Stan to transfer to the company’s headquarters in Zeeland, MI. Stan declined the offer wanting to stay in Chicago and having an opportunity to grow his teaching work.

In 1971, he and a colleague established SD Consultants. This partnership allowed Stan to combine teaching work with freelance work that grew over time through his professional networks. Then, in 1981, he formed his own interior design company, Dabrowski and Associates.  Projects included space planning and tenant development work in properties across the city on streets such as Michigan Avenue, State Street and Wacker Drive.

In addition to his work in the interior design and space-planning field, Stan spent over fifty years teaching interior design and space planning courses at a number of Chicago colleges. He taught and held the Department Chair position at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Additionally, he was on the faculty of Columbia College, International Arts, Design and Technology, and Harrington College of Design. He was fortunate to have a career that he loved and to share this passion with his many students. 

Stan lived in Villa Park for 35 years where he and his wife, Kay, raised their children. He was an active member of the community coaching Little League teams (he was the proud coach of the Red Sox Broncos), supporting the Cub Scouts annual pinewood derby event at Washington School, and participating in the St. Alexander’s church discussion group. He enjoyed all of these events and the opportunities as they were connected with his family and dear friends. 

In 1995, Stan and Kay moved back to Chicago settling in Dearborn Park in the South Loop. Stan loved the dynamics of the city — walking to work, attending concerts and cultural events, and frequenting the many restaurants. He and Kay took several trips throughout Europe enjoying the architecture, culture, and history of cities such as London, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Prague, Vienna, Warsaw, Krakow, St, Petersburg, Russia, Helsinki, Tallinn, and Riga. The Normandy beaches and the beautiful Mont St. Michel were additional highlights.

A proud grandfather, Stan found joy in attending his grandchildren’s’ many sports, concerts, performances, and recitals.

Stan was a lifetime fan of all Michigan sports teams – both professional and collegiate. He declared that it was “in his blood” to cheer for them all. Weekends centered around college football schedules and the NFL. Fantasy football leagues and March Madness brackets kept things active and “competitive” for Stan and his family.

His only life regret was not going back to visit and say “thank you” to his most favorite teachers.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Kay. His children Richard (Mary) Dabrowski, Susan (Tom) Brewer, John (Stephanie) Dabrowski, Joan Dabrowski (Stephen Billhardt), Joseph (Allison Mooney) Dabrowski. His grandchildren John, Emily, Matthew and David Dabrowski, Megan, Jack, William and Sarah Brewer, Sam, Kate, and Elisa Dabrowski, Lindy and Collins Billhardt, Tallulah and Imogene Dabrowski.  His brother Edward (Sue) Dabrowski and his sister Helen (Steve) Morse. His sisters-in-law Mary Pike and Pat Stohlmann and many nieces and nephews and good friends. 


In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to:

Muskegon Catholic Education Foundation, 1851 Barclays St. Muskegon, MI 49441. AttnAmber Wallace.

Greater Chicago Food Depository PO Box 74008557 Chicago, IL 60674-8557.or

Visitation Sunday, December 8, 2019 from 4:00 to 8:00pm at Steuerle Funeral Home, 350 S. Ardmore Ave. Villa Park, IL. Funeral Monday, December 9, 2019 beginning at Old St. Patrick’s Church, 700 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60661. Friends and family may visit from 9am until the liturgy begins at 10am. Interment Private. For additional information please call 630-832-4161.



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