The real estate in my heart

By Marianne Renner

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been on a journey of personal growth. One of the most powerful ways to grow is to put yourself in the presence of successful people and model their behavior.

Some folks define success in terms of financial wealth. To me, financial wealth is merely a byproduct of success. It’s an outcome of something deeper inside. There’s another kind of richness that emanates from the depth of one’s soul.

It’s who you are on the inside that predicates what shows up on the outside.

For me, there have been a few people in my life who’ve inspired me to become the best person I can become. One has my brother-in-law. Over the years, I’ve watched him live his life with integrity, generosity, authenticity and compassion. I see the way he conducts business, treats other people, and loves his family.

About a year ago, I decided to go to the source: his father, a commercial real estate developer who virtually has been responsible for the development of our entire community here in Aurora, IL.

In recent years, I seem to have paid more attention to the awards he received for his charitable contributions to the community; a street named in his honor; and a recent trip to Washington to pay tribute to his service in the Korean War.

One particular summer evening, I grabbed a Gario’s pizza from our local pizza joint and headed over to his house to spend an evening together. He had no idea the interview he was in for. Although he has been part of my extended family for years, I never took the time to get to know him until this day.

We started our conversation with the Korean War. He pulled out photos and spread them across the counter. I saw pictures of what looked like a child in uniform. I could only imagine what fear was hiding behind those brave eyes in the photos.

What I really wanted to know was how did someone from his very humble beginnings in our working class neighborhood start and grow both a business and a community.

What once was a small town surrounded by farm land,  today stands as the second-largest city in Illinois with all the infrastructure for a thriving community: shopping malls, restaurants, gas stations, churches.

“Well I started selling pots and pans to the ladies in the neighborhood.  And that wasn’t so hard,” he said with a giggle and the grin of a natural charmer.”

I wanted to know more about the real estate company he built from nothing, and asked, “If you had to choose one key to your success, what would it be?”

I was expecting a thousand possible answers. He could’ve talked about his ability to predict the market. He could’ve talked about his political prowess and ability to navigate complex political environments or any host of other skills and abilities he had.

But he said none of those things. He was too humble and too modest to point to himself.

Without hesitation, he held up 2 fingers and said, “Two books.” “The Power of Positive Thinking ,” by Norman Vincent Peal, which I had read. And, “If You Can Count to Four,” by James B. Jones, which I had never heard of.

My first order of business upon returning home was to get my hands on that book!

Today it sits on my book shelf, along with 2 other books he gave me about 15 years ago when I was going through some of the worst times in my life overcoming depression and alcohol abuse.

Over the past few years, I have thought of you often and the subtle, quiet impact you have made in my life. I think of you when I look at those books. I think of you each day I jog past your modest, humble home on the East side of Aurora, just up the boulevard from my own home.

I am so grateful for that seemingly random summer evening in your kitchen.

You have impacted so many lives in ways that we will never even know or hear about.

It’s my hope and desire that others read this post and become inspired to live their best lives. Have a conversation that matters. Make a difference. Impact lives.

Daniel D. Dolan, you will forever own real estate in my heart.

May you rest in peace.
~February 18, 1931 – February 20, 2020

6 replies
  1. Ryan Dolan
    Ryan Dolan says:

    Marianne that was absolutely awesome. I don’t need to tell you my Dad had a lot of love for you and even more respect. Thank you so much for this tribute to him. ❤️☘️


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