March 15, 2005 > Dick Modzeleski
"I am not Dick Modzelewski," says Dick Modzeleski with a twinkle in his eyes but adds, with an impish grin, that at times when people do not believe him, "I have been known to give out a football picture or two!"
It turns out that Modzeleski does have something in common with the principal member of the 1950s New York Giants football "The Fearsome Foursome." Modzeleski was raised in Akron, Ohio and Modzelewski played professional football and coached with the Cleveland [Ohio] Browns during his career. However, Modzeleski says with a laugh, "I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not that person."
Modzeleski's career in finance began in 1966 when he started as a collections agent for Pacific Finance Company in Sacramento. His hard work was soon recognized and he began to move up the corporate ladder. After appointment as manager of the Sacramento office, he moved to Santa Barbara, on to Simi Valley, to Newport Beach and finally, to Newark. Pacific Finance changed to Avco in 1972 and Dick stayed with them until 1980 when he joined a friend brokering loans and managed an office in San Jose.
Dec. 6, 1980 is forever etched in Dick's memory. It was then that he experienced an epiphany so powerful that it changed his life and gave him strength to accomplish wonderful things for himself, his family and community. A vision was sent to Modzeleski giving him a choice between a life of love, happiness and charity or one filled with anger, sorrow and despair. He says, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make that choice." Sharing the experience with his wife, Sandy, she told him of a similar acceptance of faith in her life.
Dick was not an easy convert; his conviction would be tested in the near future. A decision in 1981 to become self-employed brought stress and anxiety along with financial pressures. This was a big transition from drawing a paycheck to self-employment with only $3,000 in the bank. He thought, "Okay, we are going to jump into the fray and see what happens." The name "rainbow" from his company's Rainbow Funding, came from his daughter Tina who had a fondness for drawing rainbows. For the next two years, he quips, "I worked out of my home with people coming in and out - title companies, credit reporting companies, packages being delivered - while escorting people through my living room to the den for loan interviews."
Newly self-employed, Dick's faith was about to be severely tested. A divine voice asked him to give one third of his savings to a homeless man, living in a van nearby. The man worked at odd jobs in the neighborhood, but Dick had no connection with him. Not quite believing what was being asked and reticent to give a stranger $1,000, Dick decided that if this man called him at home, he would follow the instructions.
This was a "safe" proposition since the homeless man had no relationship with Dick; didn't know where Dick lived and certainly didn't know his phone number. Saturday morning, while washing his car, Dick couldn't believe his eyes as he watched a van (the van!) slowly approach. He crouched to avoid being seen but the van stopped and a man asked for directions. Before leaving, the man asked if Dick would like to attend a lecture by evangelist Mario Murillo that evening. Dick declined. Later that day, the van again stopped at his address and Dick was asked again if he would like to attend the evening lecture. Again, Dick declined.
Dick was asked for his phone number just in case he changed his mind. At 7 p.m. that evening, the man called to ask if Dick had changed his mind. Dick said "no" but knew he could no longer avoid destiny.
Still reticent, Dick decided to visit the homeless man on Monday morning in the parking lot where he stayed in his van. He purposely waited until late morning, figuring that the man would be gone to one of his handyman jobs. "I drove down the street and there was his van with his feet sticking out from beneath it." The van had broken down and the man was trying to repair it. Dick knew that he had no choice. With his wife's blessing, he made a quick trip to Bank of America and returned to the homeless man with $1,000 in an envelope. "I am supposed to give this to you," said Dick. The man thanked him and tossed the envelope into his van without looking in it.
Several years later, Dick saw the man again and asked about the envelope. He was told that it had not been opened for about six months. The man said that he was stunned when he opened it and couldn't believe his eyes. At that time, the man had moved off the streets and into a room. The woman who ran the house didn't have money for groceries, her daughter needed a bicycle and there were other needs, so the man used most of the money for others. Dick said the experience showed him how to give and the meaning of tithing. "The word of God became alive to me."
In 1983, Dick rented space at Arnold Realty in Newark for a while and then was able to buy his present location, which was had been the corporate office for Round Table Pizza. The property came up for sale and he thought, "I have got to take a chance." In his years at Rainbow Funding, Dick says, "I have seen all sorts of things happen including houses being boarded up and under foreclosure and people paying 10 points plus interest rates at 21percent to get a loan. It was crazy." At one time, with 18 people in the office he became more of a problem solver than he wanted to be. "There were desks everywhere." Now the office has settled down to include a few others but Dick is able to concentrate his full attention on helping his clients.
"I started with Rainbow Funding and Rainbow Realty." Nobody was doing both. With help from a woman who moved to the area from San Jose and worked with me for a while, I learned more about the loan business and increased my knowledge of real estate and was able to combine my services.
A visit to Dick's office exposes another side of Dick - the collector. Walls and shelves are filled with lithographs, paintings, signed pictures, sports balls and an infinite variety of sports memorabilia which he admits is just the overflow of his home collection. A life size Joe Montana replica wearing authentic sports gear greets visitors to the office. It is hard to believe, but Dick says this represents only a small fraction of his collection. He remembers going to events and card shows with his son, Adam, collecting mementos. Once he bought a large collection of sports cards that required hours of family time sorting and cataloguing. Family members had a chat with him after that experience. Sports memorabilia collecting slowed after that and Dick soon turned his attention to vintage sports cars. He has a 1954 Corvette, a 1957 fuel-injected Corvette and a 1949 Jeepster from his high school days (he even has the original pink slip from Ohio).
An active member of the community, Dick has participated in many civic and church-related organizations. Among these, he is a past president of CURA (a drug rehabilitation organization), past board president of League of Volunteers (LOV), Business Men's Fellowship, Morning Star, Newark Chamber of Commerce and many others. Dick does this because, "I am trying to give back and I am a Newark person." He quotes [Newark City Manager] Al Huezo saying, "This [Newark] is the best little secret in the Bay Area." Dick has seen Newark grow and expand from his location on Thornton Boulevard. "I have tried to give back and stay involved, not because I am Dick of Rainbow Funding, but Dick, the person that wants to give back."
Rainbow Funding & Realty
6658 Thornton Ave., Newark