Alfred Eno Woodward II (1913-2007) Lawyer and Judge (b. December 15, 1913, Sandwich, Illinois, USA - d. 2007)




  • S. Louis Rathje writes:
    On December 4, 1994, another chapter in the long career of judge and attorney Alfred E. Woodward came to a close. On that day, Judge Woodward retired, for the second time, from the Second District, Appellate Court, where he had served since 1986. Alfred E. Woodward was born in Sandwich, Illinois, on December 15, 1913, the youngest of three boys. Malcolm, the eldest, was 19 years older, and John, the middle brother, was 11 years older. Needless to say, Alfred grew up as an "only child." His father was Alfred E. Woodward, Sr., and his mother was the former Mabel Coleman. At the time he was born, Sandwich was a town of about 2,500 people, most of whom were farmers or worked in the local manufacturing company. Alfred’s father was employed by the Sandwich Manufacturing Company. Growing up, Alfred participated in sports, such as football, basketball, and he also took up golf around the age of 11 or 12. In high school, he played football, starting as a halfback and later as an end. In his senior year, he was the quarterback. He was also on the debating team. By the time Alfred was ready to attend college, the great Depression had struck. Although originally his plans were to attend Northwestern, where his older brothers had attended, Alfred attended Oberlin College in Ohio on an athletic scholarship. In order to pay for his expenses, he worked in the kitchen, washing pots and pans, until he was promoted to waiting tables. At Oberlin, he majored in political science and played football. By his senior year, he was captain of the football team. Eventually, Alfred would be named to the Heisman Club, Oberlin’s "Hall of Fame." His college nickname, "The Ham from Sandwich" is the first recorded acknowledgment of his special brand of "dry" humor. By high school, Alfred had determined that he wanted to be a lawyer. With the encouragement of his father and the example of his brother, John, at that time a practicing attorney, following his graduation from Oberlin in 1935, he enrolled at Northwestern University School of Law. Alfred graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1938. Fortunately, he had a job waiting for him in a law firm in Wheaton, Illinois, which his brother, John, had recently formed with another attorney, Bert Rathje. Alfred joined the Navy as an Ensign and served in the South Pacific as a communications officer. He spent the war on several small islands named Abemama and Tiniau and became a Lieutenant J.G. in 1945. Although he had an opportunity to travel to Japan to participate in the surrender, he opted for home and family, which now included his son, Robert, born in 1943, whom he had not yet seen. Discharged from the service in January 1946, he returned to Wheaton and the practice of law. In 1950, Alfred became a partner in the Wheaton law firm of Rathje and Woodward. Judge Woodward served as President of the DuPage County Bar Association in 1956. Of all the varied cases in which he was involved, Judge Woodward is proudest of two murder cases in which he served as defense counsel. In the early 1960’s, he represented a woman charged with murdering her husband’s girlfriend. The defendant’s husband had been seeing another woman. On the day in question, the defendant decided that she would take matters into her own hands. Taking along a shotgun, she drove to the victim’s apartment, and, rather than opening the screen door, went through it, knocking the door off its hinges. The defendant confronted the victim, who was in the bathtub. Without uttering a word, the defendant fired the shotgun into the victim’s chest, killing her instantly. The...jury returned a not guilty verdict in less than two hours. In the second murder case, Judge Woodward again represented a woman charged with murder. This time the victim was the husband, rather than the girlfriend. The victim came home late one night; the defendant let him in, and she followed him into the bathroom. Rather than using the rolling pin, the defendant put a pistol up to the victim’s forehead and pulled the trigger, killing him instantly. The jury eventually told the trial judge that it could not reach a verdict, and it was discharged. Judge Woodward recalled, "A couple of days later, I went to see [then State’s Attorney] Bill Bauer, and Bill said, ‘You don’t want to try this case again, do you?’ I said I hoped he was right, and an agreement was worked out. I pleaded the defendant guilty to involuntary manslaughter because the arrangement I had for getting paid by the defendant was the payment of a $10,000 insurance policy on the victim’s life payable to the defendant. By pleading in that fashion, the insurance company could not say that she intentionally murdered her husband. In 1967, he was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers. After his divorce from his first wife, he married the former Alice Keller in 1957. In so doing, they created a "yours and mine" family of six children, his three children, Bob, Anne, and Dave; and Alice’s three children, Sue, Mike, and Lynn. In a year, the family expanded to a "yours, mine, and ours" amalgamation with the birth of their daughter, Wendy. As DuPage County grew in population, so did the number of circuit court judgeships [to which he was appointed]. Of the many civil and criminal cases he presided over in the circuit court, he best remembers — what else — a sensational murder trial involving—what else — a life insurance policy and, of course, marital disharmony. The defendant filed suit for divorce. At the marital home, the husband was shot in the head and killed about six or seven o’clock one night. The gun and the bullets were found at the scene in his bedroom; he had been in bed. The police never picked up any fingerprints but the victim’s on the gun. The result was not guilty. As a result, defendant came into about $250,000 of life insurance." In 1977, Judge Woodward was selected by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill a vacancy in the Second District, Appellate Court. This transition was made simpler by the fact that he had done quite a bit of appellate work while in private practice. Judge Woodward stayed on the appellate bench until January 1981, at which time, he chose to return to private practice with the law firm of Rathje, Woodward, Dyer & Burt. In the midst of resuming his practice, Judge Woodward was named in 1982 as a Director of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. In 1986, the Supreme Court recalled Judge Woodward to the appellate bench, where he served with distinction until December 1994. Judge Alfred Woodward retired from the bench at 81 years of age.

  • Heather Won Tesoriero writes in the Wall Street Journal blog:

We were sad to learn of the passing of Alfred E. Woodward, a retired Illinois appellate judge and father of Watergate reporter Bob Woodward. Here's the obit in the Daily Herald. Judge Woodward, a longtime Wheaton resident, died Tuesday from congestive heart failure at Wynscape Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Wheaton. He was 93. A graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, he cut his teeth litigating small civil cases before justices of the peace. His first criminal case, which he won, involved defending a woman charged with adultery. In 1970, Woodward was elected as a judge in DuPage County's 18th Circuit Court and became chief judge in 1973. By 1977, he was serving on the state's 2nd District Appellate Court and held the post for 17 years, retiring in 1994 at the age of 81. According to the Daily Herald, Bob Woodward grew up with the unwritten expectation he'd follow in his dad's tracks, become a lawyer and join Rathje and Woodward, his father's firm. The journalist recalled his father’s uncharacteristic response when told his son was taking a job at a small newspaper in Montgomery County, Md., earning $110 a week. “He said the most judgmental thing I've ever heard him say. He said, ‘You're crazy.’ He let people make their own decisions, but he just rendered a verdict that he thought I was crazy.”

Funeral noticeEdit

Wheaton Leader; Tue Feb 27, 2007, 12:36 PM CST: Alfred E. Woodward. Wheaton, IL - Wheaton resident Alfred E. Woodward, 93, died Feb. 20, 2007, in Wynscape Senior Living Campus, Wheaton. Services were held Feb. 23 in First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton. Interment was in Wheaton Cemetery. Mr. Woodward was a retired Illinois appellate court judge. He retired from the bench in 1994. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1945. Born and raised in Sandwich, Ill., Mr. Woodward attended Oberlin College in Ohio on a football scholarship. He was captain of the football team in 1934 and graduated in 1935. He earned his law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in 1938. After completing his military service, Mr. Woodward became a partner in the Wheaton law firm of Rathje and Woodward. He was elected to the 18th Circuit Court in 1970 and served until 1971. He was chief judge for the 18th District Circuit Court from 1973 to 1975. In 1977, he was selected for a vacancy in the 2nd District of the Illinois Appellate Court. He returned to private practice in 1981, but five years later, returned to the Illinois Appellate Court. Survivors include three sons, Bob (Elsa Walsh), Michael Keller and Dave; four daughters, Susan (Joe) Whall, Anne, Lynn Keller (Ken Horiszny) and Wendy (Ken Helden); seven grandchildren, Grant Keller, Andrew, Tali, Collin, Brent and Diana; and three great-grandchildren. Mr. Woodward was preceded in death by his wife, Alice; and two brothers, Malcolm and John. Memorials may be sent to the American Diabetes Association, Northern Illinois Office, 30 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2015, Chicago, IL 60602. Arrangements were handled by Williams-Kampp Funeral Home, Wheaton.