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 www.thewiltonmortuary.com