Robert L. Dannehl, 92, was called home on September 23, 2018 by the Creator of all things. A retired judge and attorney, Judge Dannehl was the ninth of twelve children born to his parents William Dannehl and Gussie Racuglen Dannehl on Labor Day, September 6, 1926. Born in Thawville, Illinois, he moved to Onarga, Illinois and attended Onarga Public Schools, 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 United States 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. He 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, Illinois 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 January 1, 1977 and concluded with his retirement October 31, 1995. He served in Iroquois, Kankakee and Will counties.
On June 10, 1951, he married Ruth Ann Nielsen, a graduate from Iowa State University and at the time of their marriage, the head dietician at the Busey-Evans girls dormitory at the University of Illinois. Ruth preceded him in death on June 7, 2011. Surviving are two children, Dr. Karl N. Dannehl (Mary) from Atlanta, Georgia and Sara J. Mikuta-Henry (Robert), from Western Springs, Illinois. Also surviving are the following grandchildren: Joseph Robert Mikuta, Nicholas James Mikuta (Gina), John Zeitler Dannehl, Cherylyn Henry, Laurin Henry Ewing (Andrew) and one great grandchild, Nicholas James Mikuta, Jr. He is also survived by his youngest brother Wayne Dannehl (Carole) from Hayward, Wisconsin and brother-in-law, Charles Lucas, Alexandria, Virginia and many beloved nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and 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. He 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 held Friday, September 28, 2018 from 3 until 7 pm at Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. The funeral services will be held Saturday, September 29, 2018, at 10 am at the First United Methodist Church of Watseka, with a visitation at 9 am. Burial will be in the Onarga Cemetery immediately after the funeral. A luncheon will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for the First United Methodist Church of Watseka, Grand Prairie Seminary scholarship fund or the Greater Peoria Honor Flight.