Judge Fred William Reither, 96, died peacefully surrounded by his family at Regency Health Care in Springfield IL on August 10, 2020.
He was born in Beardstown, IL on April 5, 1924 to Fred G Reither and Lydia A (Kingston) Reither of Beardstown. He respected and appreciated the work ethic of his parents who preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his beloved older brothers, Virgil (Louise Guthrie), Ralph (Isabelle Jeffries) and Charles (Valerie Stephens). He felt especially supported and loved by Ralph and inspired by Virgil.
Judge Reither is survived by his two children, Fred Virgil Reither (Trey) and Shelley Lydia (wife, Elizabeth Belletire House). He loved and was proud of his surviving grandchildren, Steven and Leah (mother Cindi) Reither, his step grandson, Jacob House (Taylor Ley), and great grand daughter, Charlotte House. He is also survived by his 100 year old brother, Clarence John Walter Reither (wife, Vera nee Merz). He was proud of his 5 nieces and nephews, David Reither (Brenda), Karen Reither (Bill Wallace), Mark Reither (Kathy), Gwen Schumacher (Tom) and Paul Reither, as well as their children and his brother’s grandchildren.
Judge Reither was a WWII Veteran and served in the 75th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge, Battle of Rhineland and the Colmar Pocket. He served 2 years 9 months and 6 days as he liked to recall. He held the prestigious Combat Infantryman Badge. His Division served in Wales, England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. His group was among the first troops to arrive in Germany. They helped liberate Holland and he made friends there for life with the Janssen-Joosten family.
He graduated Beardstown High School with the class of 1942. While attending college, the professors thought he was a natural to law and encouraged him to pursue that course of study. He attended Blackburn College, Alfred University, City College of New York and finished law school on the GI Bill at the University of Illinois Law School. He earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1950. He was a proud alumnus of these schools and would still sing at the top of his lungs, “Blackburn will shine tonight, Blackburn will shine”.
Mr. Reither served as Circuit Court Judge of the 8th judicial circuit for Cass County for 45 years. He retired in 2001 as one of the longest serving justices in the State of Illinois. He served one term as Chief Judge. He was known for his grace, fairness and kindness as a judge. He had a heart for the people of his county and especially his home town of Beardstown. He loved performing weddings and presiding over adoptions. He often said adopted kids are the most wanted children.
Fred was a wonderful, avid dancer and loved to go to the Blackhawk Village Inn Pump Room to dance, as well as the Jacksonville VFW and Nichols Park. He loved to Fox Trot and was found many Saturday nights at the Illinois State Fair dance floor, The Elks, or Leo and Bud’s.
He was preceded in death by two of his favorite dance partners and loves: Mary Esther Knight and Robertine Erixon. Fred loved the shenanigans of young children. He read Green Eggs and Ham to every child to whom he was connected. Even at age 95 he delighted in passing out candy to trick or treaters at the nursing home.
Mr. Reither was a staunch democrat who served as the vice president of the Young Democrats of Illinois under then President Paul Simon. He and Senator Simon forged a friendship for life. He also served as a Delegate at Large to the 1952 Democratic National Convention. He was also a life long member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Illinois State and Cass County Bar Associations.
He was a lifelong member of St John’s Lutheran Church and held several offices there over the years. He was a member of the Guthrie-Pierce VFW Post #1239 and American Legion for over 50 years. Judge was a lifelong, long-suffering Cubs fan. He could still name the entire starting line up of the 1940 Chicago Cubs. He was pleased to be able to watch the 2016 Cubs win a World Series in his lifetime.
He loved music his whole life and despite having a teacher who told him he should only move his lips, became a singer with great gusto. During the last 5 years of his life he often could be heard in the halls singing patriotic songs and “You Are My Sunshine”. He was cared for almost like family by the staff of Regency Healthcare with special thanks to Jodi Beeve, Ronetta Tillman and especially Paige Carter. The family thanks them for their generosity of spirit and their loving kindness.
Private family services will be held. Friends are invited to attend the committal service at St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Beardstown at 11:45 AM Friday, August 14, 2020, with Military Honors performed by Guthrie-Pierce VFW Post #1239. An informal visitation will be held from 2-4 PM Thursday at Colwell Memorial Home in Beardstown. The family has requested to greet friends outside the memorial home from 5-7 PM on Thursday and all are welcome to go inside to pay your respect. Due to the current health situation, face masks will be required and to comply with social distancing guidelines, a limited number of people will be allowed in the memorial home at one time.
In lieu of flowers, memorials have been suggested to St. John’s Lutheran Church, Friends of the Old Lincoln Courtroom, or Guthrie-Pierce VFW Post #1239. Condolences may be left online at www.colwellmemorialhome.com or on Facebook at Colwell Memorial Home.
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St. John's Lutheran Church
214 East Sixth Street, Beardstown IL 62618
Friends of the Old Lincoln Courtroom
515 S. State Street, Beardstown IL 62618
Guthrie-Pierce VFW Post #1239
610 East Foruth Street, Beardstown IL 62618