Robert Kirchner

Robert Kirchner

URBANA – Champaign attorney Robert G. Kirchner died on Sunday (April 17, 2011) at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. He was 54 years old.

Private services will be held for his family at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 708 W. Main St., Urbana, with Father Joseph Hogan officiating. Burial will be in Mount Hope Cemetery in Urbana.

The family invites friends to attend a celebration of Bob's life at 4 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Kennedy's Stone Creek Banquet Center, 2560 S. Stone Creek Blvd., Urbana.

Bob was born on June 23, 1956, in Joliet, Ill., the eldest son of Robert and Margaret (Keyser) Kirchner, and grew up in New Lenox, Ill.

He attended Western Illinois University, where he earned a B.A. in philosophy and political science in 1976 and an M.A. in political science in 1977.

He met his wife Gerri at WIU and they were married in Park Ridge, Ill., on Aug. 25, 1979. Bob and Gerri began their marriage in Urbana, where Bob attended the University of Illinois College of Law, earning a J.D. in 1982.

He joined the Champaign law practice of Burt Greaves and Art Lerner, which became Greaves, Lerner and Kirchner, and later, Lerner and Kirchner.

In 2002, Bob opened his own law office in Champaign and was later joined by attorney Ruth Wyman. As a highly skilled trial lawyer, Bob was an intelligent advocate for his clients and was known for his dedication to the law. He was diligent in his research and his knowledge of the law was the foundation of his legal abilities.

He argued many cases before the Appellate Courts and the Illinois Supreme Court, winning several that established legal precedents. Bob championed many legal causes that other attorneys would not take on.

Bob's interest in the law prompted him to run as a Democratic candidate for state representative in 1996. He lost the election, but his campaign engaged public participation by hosting a series of monthly symposiums on key issues impacting state legislation, including education funding, crime, drug abuse and gun control, child welfare, women's rights, health care, employment laws, and campaign finance reform.

Bob later served on the Champaign County Board as the District 9 representative, appointed in 2001 and elected in 2002 to a two-year term. As a member of the board's Democratic majority, he voted to pass laws to guarantee a living wage for all full-time county employees, to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation, and to establish free dental care for low-income children.

Bob chaired the county nursing home sub-committee and worked on the successful passage of the referendum proposal to fund its construction. He ran for election to the county board again in 2006 and lost a closely contested Democratic primary.

Bob served as Vice President of the Champaign County Bar Association from 1994 to 1995. In 1994, he helped establish Best Interest of Children, a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to child and family advocacy, and served on its board.

Bob was blessed with many friends and a loving family. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Gerri; his sisters, Marlene (Dennis) Gallagher of Joliet and Lorrie (Robert) Chaplin of Macomb; brothers, John (Carol) Burkhart of Palm Coast, Fla., Ron (Laura) Kirchner of Dover, Tenn., and David Kirchner of Harbor City, Calif.; brother-in-law, Paul (Sue) Geissler of Palatine; sister-in-law, Shelly (Paul) Kotecki of Buffalo Grove; four nephews; and seven nieces.

Bob was an avid softball player for many years. He was also famous among family and friends for his delight in winning at everything, including volleyball, bocce ball, bowling, ping pong, bridge, hearts, pinochle, poker and games.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Best Interest of Children, 803 Kettering Park Drive, Suite 203, Urbana, IL 61801.