Dorothy Tracy, Dot Foods co-founder, dies at 91

Dorothy Tracy
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 28, 2020 12:42 am Updated: Mar. 28, 2020 1:01 am

MOUNT STERLING, Ill. — Dorothy Tracy, co-founder of Dot Foods, has died, the Mount Sterling-based company announced. 

Dorothy died in her home Friday from natural causes not related to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was 91.

“Mom has always been the foundation and guiding light for our family and business,” said John Tracy, Dot Foods executive chairman and seventh child of Robert and Dorothy Tracy. “Right to the end, she was a living example to everyone she touched of humility, kindness, faith and family-first values.”

Robert and Dorothy Tracy founded the company in 1960. Originally named Associated Dairy Products Co., the company adopted the name Dot Associated Dairy Products Co. in honor of Dorothy in 1966, before being renamed Dot Foods in 1981. 

Dorothy played an integral part in the company's early success by helping with bookkeeping, secretarial and delivery duties, all while raising the family's 12 children.

The $8.1 billion company is now the largest food industry redistributor in North America and is still owned and operated by the Tracy family. Dot Foods employs 6,400 people in 16 locations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including 2,800 individuals at its Mount Sterling corporate headquarters.

“Mom has meant so much to our family and our employees over the years,” said Joe Tracy, Dot Foods chief executive officer and eleventh child of Robert and Dorothy Tracy. “She played such a crucial role in defining who we all are and have become.” 

Dorothy was born on Jan. 21, 1929, in Taylorville. She was one of Lawrence and Marie Curtin's seven children. She grew up on their farm in Blue Mound, attended Stonington Community High School and graduated from the Sacred Heart Academy in Springfield. In 1949, she received a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Illinois.

While at the university, she met Robert Francis Tracy, an agriculture student from Jerseyville. They were married in Stonington on June 9, 1949, and lived in Champaign. The Tracys moved to Mount Sterling in 1952, where Robert worked in sales for Prairie Farms before founding Associated Dairy Products Co.

Dorothy was active in the Holy Family Catholic Church in Mount Sterling, where she often played the organ. She also was a member of the National T.T.T. Society chapter in Mount Sterling, served on the Brown County School Board and played bridge in several local clubs.  

Dorothy had a philanthropic spirit, a value she instilled in her children and made a cornerstone of her company. 

She volunteered and supported many local charities and is known for her role in helping build the Mount Sterling Community Center YMCA, which opened in 2004. Construction of the facility was paid for by Robert and Dorothy Tracy, the Tracy Family Foundation, and Dot Foods.

Dorothy is survived by 12 children, 46 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren

The private burial will be at Mount Sterling Catholic Cemetery and is for immediate Tracy family members only. 

Because of the Illinois ongoing stay-at-home order, which limits the size of groups to 10 people or fewer, a memorial service for Dot Foods employees, friends, and the entire Tracy family will be held at a yet-to-be determined date. 

The Hendricker Funeral Home of Mount Sterling is handling funeral arrangements.