Robert H. "Bob" Michel
1923 - 2017
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Robert "Bob" H. Michel
PEORIA - Robert Henry Michel, 93, of Washington, D.C., formerly of Peoria, died early Friday morning, February, 17, 2017, at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va.
Michel was born in Peoria, IL, on March 2, 1923, to Charles H. and Anna (Baer) Michel. He married Corinne Woodruff on December 26, 1948.
Michel was preceded in death by his parents, a sister and his wife, Corinne. He is survived by a sister; four children, Scott of Chicago, Ill., Bruce of San Antonio, Texas, Laurie of Alexandria, Va., and Robin of San Francisco, Calif.; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Michel graduated from Peoria High School, the president of his class, and attended one semester at Bradley University in Peoria, prior to joining the Army in World War II. Michel landed in Normandy on the fourth day of the D-Day invasion of Europe; he received two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart and four battle stars.
Upon returning from the war, he re-enrolled at Bradley University and graduated with a degree in business administration. Michel began a career in politics that spanned nearly 50 years. He served as the top Republican in the House for 14 years, during a transformative era in American history. Bob led Republicans through the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and in the years preceding the transfer of power in Congress from Democratic to Republican for the first time in 40 years.
Michel had a reputation as a skilled legislative craftsman, who knew his members, and who could achieve consensus among his colleagues, making him a vital and indispensible ally. Michel orchestrated the talents of a leadership team that included three future Cabinet secretaries, a Vice President and a future Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate.
Michel was known as a straight shooter whose word was as good as gold, and his firm handshake a guarantee of good faith. The hallmark of his tenure was his deep respect for Congress as an institution of government, his respect for his colleagues and the practice of civility in the deliberation of public policy.
Michel was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1994. President Reagan conferred upon him the presidential Citizens Medal in 1989. He received the first Congressional Distinguished Service Award in 2000. Then President of France, Jacques Chirac, named Michel to the Knights of the Legion of Honor in June of 2004, during the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landing. Michel participated in ceremonies marking the anniversary in England and France, and was presented with his Legion of Honor award by the French Ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte.
Michel received many honors and recognitions, most notably a bridge spanning the Illinois River is also named after him, as is a Veterans' clinic in Peoria, the student center at Bradley University and the cloakroom at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington; he was also a Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.
The Leader was a diehard fan of the Chicago Cubs and an avid golfer as well. He was a lover of music and an accomplished singer, often accompanied on the piano by his wife, Corinne. Gardening was also among his most favored pastimes.
A visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 24, 2017, at The Wilton Mortuary in Peoria. The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at the Renaissance Coliseum at Bradley University Campus in Peoria. A private burial will take place at Parkview Cemetery in Peoria.
Memorial donations can be made to the Bob and Corinne Michel Bradley University Scholarship Fund, 1501 W. Bradley Ave., Peoria, IL 61625.
Online condolences may be left for the family at

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Published in Peoria Journal Star from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20, 2017.
04:00 - 08:00 PM
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14 entries
February 25, 2017
Scott and Family - I am so sorry you lost your wonderful father but what a meaningful, long life it was. I always looked for him in the front row of the Capitol July 4 celebration to see his great smile and was happy to see him this past July. I know your memories of him will help you through this difficult time. His was a purposeful life and he served our country well. Scott, one of my best memories of your dad was at the National Merit Scholarship dinner our senior year. Our families sat at the same table that night. And it happened to be right after the big party I had at my house (which was not 'authorized' by my parents!). Your dad walked up to my dad with his big smile and hearty laugh. He shook my dad's hand and said with a mischievous smile "heard about the great party at your house!" and then he laughed. I was mortified but my dad laughed, too, so I was grateful to your dad for that. I will always remember his smile and laugh! Hope to see you at our 50th next year.
Cheri (Nothstine ) Wiley
February 22, 2017
Dear Michel family,

My mother, Mary Louise (Loos) Redard, always said your Dad was honest. To me, that means ethical, and I agreed with her. I also realize that she and my Dad, Leslie, socialized with your parents as did my Uncle Rube and Aunt Verna. They supported him throughout his congressional career.

My perspective on him is different than theirs would have been because my recollections go back to childhood. The first ones were seeing him checking out groceries at the A&P store on Main Street and driving his station wagon on Glenwood. There were the Christmas cards, and I always enjoyed looking at those. Also, he responded to the letters I wrote including one when I was living outside his district.

Best wishes always,
Thomas E. Redard
Thomas Redard
February 21, 2017
Matthew McGuire
February 21, 2017
To the family and friends,
I was saddened to hear of Congressman Robert Michael's death. As an Illinois resident and immigrant to the US after WWII, he touched my life personally. He acknowledged my success by addressing the Speaker of the House on June 20, 1991. By doing so, his comments about my promotion to Brigadier General and realizing the American dream were recorded in the Congressional Record. In seeing his obituary, I remember him as a man with impeccable values and a kind, compassionate heart. It was an honor to be recognized by someone of his stature.
BG (ret.) Russ Zajtchuk, US Army
Russ Zajtchuk
February 21, 2017
Bob was one of my Dad's best friends. They loved Bradley basketball and a friendly rivalry over their favorite baseball teams which was only topped by their love of politics. We can all learn a lot in this turbulent political time from Bob's ability to cross the aisle and make sense of situations for all involved.
Antje Hillen-Pippin
February 20, 2017
Paul Godfrey
February 20, 2017
We all share the loss of this most decent, giving, caring, patriot and friend. Bob was a truly beautiful man in every sense of the word. I join his friends and family in mourning his passing. Bill Brock
William Brock
February 20, 2017
May the God of comfort be with you at the same time
February 19, 2017
Sorry for your loss God bless
Debra Merritt
February 19, 2017
Know that you have my deepest sympathy and prayers. So many good memories of your parents and their relationship with me over many years especially my years working at Catholic University and thereafter staying with them on Capitol Hill when I would visit DC. Great annual phone chats with Bob after Corinne died on her anniversary including last October 22. He was alert, new me and enjoyed renewing our friendship though he did talk of his coming death with surrender. May he Rest In Peace.
Father Patrick W. Collins
Patrick Collins
February 19, 2017
A fine Gentleman. He will be missed! Sally Ferree, Las Vegas, Nevada
Sally Ferree
February 19, 2017
To the family of Bob Michel. Bob, was a very close friend of my father Joe Rafool. Dad gave him the first large donation to get him started and also bought him his desk set when he went to Washington. We went to Washington when I was about 14 years old and Bob let us sit in on some hearings. He also took us down stairs in the FBI Building and he let us shoot a real FBI gun on a skeleton. Thanks, for being there for my dad and family. Bob, also took care of all my dad's (my aunt) from Mexico all her papers coming back and forth from Mexico to Peoria. Thanks, Bob and may you RIP. Like dad use to say, "YOU WERE THE GREATEST". You never forgot what dad did to help get you started. Whenever, you saw him it was always THANKS Joe
Barbara Rafool Patterson
February 18, 2017
Jim Koehler
February 18, 2017
To the Michel family.....I knew Mr. Michael through my parents. He always had time to say hello and visit. I was so in aww of him when I was a little girl, but grew up to realize what an amazing man he was, and a rock solid politician. Always a class act. It was an honor to know him. May God comfort you in this difficult time. God Bless Bob!!
Elinor Benne
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