Robert Dannehl

September 27, 2018

Robert L. Dannehl, 92, was called home Sunday (Sept. 23, 2018) by the creator of all things.

A retired judge and attorney, Judge Dannehl was the ninth of 12 children born to William Dannehl and Gussie Racuglen Dannehl on Labor Day, Sept. 6, 1926. Born in Thawville, he moved to Onarga and attended Onarga Public Schools and the University of Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in June of 1950. While an undergraduate, he played varsity basketball for the Fighting Illini during the 1945-46 season (Oskee Wow Wow!) and was a member of the Sigma Pi Fraternity. His college days followed military service as a 17-year-old volunteer in the U.S. Navy during World War II in 1944 and 1945. He served in anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic arena in the winter of 1944 and 1945. Robert operated a then-top-secret high-frequency direction finder and was privy to the top-secret knowledge that the German secret code had been broken.

In September 1950, he opened a general law office in Watseka, with law classmate Billy Davis, and served two terms as state’s attorney of Iroquois County from 1956 to 1964. In 1976, he was appointed circuit judge to succeed Judge David Oram. His service commenced Jan. 1, 1977, and concluded with his retirement Oct. 31, 1995. He served in Iroquois, Kankakee and Will counties.

On June 10, 1951, he married Ruth Ann Nielsen, a graduate of Iowa State University and, at the time of their marriage, the head dietitian at the Busey-Evans girls dormitory at the University of Illinois. Ruth preceded him in death June 7, 2011.

Surviving are two children, Dr. Karl N. Dannehl (Mary), of Atlanta, Ga., and Sara J. Mikuta-Henry (Robert), of Western Springs. Also surviving are grandchildren, Joseph Robert Mikuta, Nicholas James Mikuta (Gina), John Zeitler Dannehl, Cherylyn Henry and Laurin Henry Ewing (Andrew); and one great-grandchild, Nicholas James Mikuta Jr. He also is survived by his youngest brother, Wayne Dannehl (Carole), of Hayward, Wis.; brother-in-law, Charles Lucas, of Alexandria, Va.; and many beloved nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews; and great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews.

Judge Dannehl was highly active, both locally and professionally, during his 68-year professional career. Among his civic and business connections were 1955 Commander of the American Legion Post 23, Watseka Elks Lodge 446 (charter member), chairman of the fundraising committee that built Legion Park Swimming Pool, appeal attorney for the Select Service Board, board member of both the local American Red Cross and Watseka Library, Watseka Jaycees (charter member), board member of Watseka First Trust & Savings Bank and, at his death, a long-term board member of Grand Prairie Seminary in Onarga. Among his service to the American Legion Post 23 was the acquisition of additional Fowler property and Bell Pasture, increasing the area and access to Legion Park. He was baptized in the Onarga United Methodist Church and remained a member of the Watseka First United Methodist Church until his death.

His Bar Association activities were constant and included memberships in the local, state and American Bar Association and the American Judicature Society. Judge Dannehl served on the Illinois Bar Association Committee to revise and rewrite the Illinois Criminal Code. He was an original board member and founder of an Attorney Assistance program to aid counsel with substance abuse problems. Among his proudest experiences was a six-year appointment by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Supervisory Committee on Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, which also consisted of learning from and working with the best legal minds and trial attorneys in Illinois.

Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. An additional time for visitation will be from 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, until the 10 a.m. funeral services at the First United Methodist Church of Watseka. Burial will follow in Onarga Cemetery. A luncheon will follow at the church.

Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Watseka, Grand Prairie Seminary Scholarship Fund or the Greater Peoria Honor Flight.

Please sign his online guestbook at knappfuneralhomes.com.


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