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Joseph Spitz

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DUNLAP - Judge Joseph R. Spitz, 84, of Mattoon, Ill., the father of a Dunlap woman, passed away at 10:06 a.m. Saturday, May 9, 2009, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo.

Judge Spitz was born May 26, 1924, in Mattoon, the son of Joseph E. and Ruth E. (Reed) Spitz. He married Avanelle Krabbe on Sept. 3, 1949.

He is survived by his loving wife, Avanelle Spitz of Mattoon; a daughter, Julie Rock (and her husband, Jeffrey) of Dunlap, Ill.; three grandchildren, Benjamin Rock of Hanover Park, Rachel Rock and Adam Rock of Dunlap; and a sister, Sylvia Busbey of Mattoon.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Judge Spitz graduated from Mattoon High School in 1942. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, receiving a BS degree in 1948 and a juris doctorate from the University of Illinois Law School in 1951. He commenced the practice of law in Mattoon in November 1951.

He served as assistant state's attorney for Coles County from January 1952 until December 1956. He then practiced law with the firm of Dilsaver, Gilkerson, and Spitz for 20 years.

He was appointed as circuit judge for the 5th Judicial Circuit of Illinois by the Supreme Court in December 1976 and commenced his duties as circuit judge on Feb. 1, 1977. He was elected to the circuit bench in the general election in 1978. He was assigned to the appellate court of Illinois, 4th district, by the Supreme Court of Illinois in October 1985. He served on the appellate court in Springfield until his retirement on Oct. 1, 1991.

He was a member of the Illinois Judges Association; Illinois Bar Association; Coles-Cumberland Bar Association, having served as a past president; Mattoon Chamber of Commerce, having served as a past president; Knights of Columbus; American Legion Post 88; Moose; Eagles; and a 50-year member of Mattoon Golf and Country Club. He was an active member of the Immaculate Conception Church, where he served as a trustee.

He also was a board member of the fire and police commission for the city of Mattoon, where he served as chairman. Judge Spitz was a past member of the board of directors of Central Illinois Public Service Company; First National Bank of Mattoon, now First Mid Illinois Bank and Trust; Mattoon Lions Club, having been a past president; and Coles County Mental Health Association, having served as past president.

He was a veteran of World War II, serving as a staff sergeant with the 29th Infantry Division in France. He was awarded the Purple Heart.

He was a lifelong Cubs fan, as well as an avid reader, golfer and gardener.

He was a caring and loving husband, father and grandfather.

A funeral Mass will be held for Judge Spitz at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 14, at the Immaculate Conception Church, 320 N. 21st St., Mattoon. The Rev. Dennis D. Kollross will officiate, and burial will follow immediately in Calvary Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, at Schilling Funeral Home, 1301 Charleston Ave., Mattoon.

Memorials may be made in his name to the St. Vincent de Paul Society; St. Mary's Catholic School, Mattoon; Public Library; or to a charity of the donor's choice.

Published in Peoria Journal Star on May 12, 2009
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