Wife of Ex-House Minority Leader Dies

Posted October 24, 2003 at 5:21pm

Corinne Michel, wife of former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.), died Wednesday. She was 77.

The longtime Peoria, Ill., resident was known for her keen interest in the arts and Peoria culture, which she developed while standing alongside her husband during his long career in Congress.

Corinne Michel had been ill since she suffered a stroke following surgery in January. Her death comes weeks after another notable Washingtonian spouse, Millie O’Neill, wife of former Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.), died Oct. 6.

Corinne Michel was born in Onida, S.D. She moved to Peoria with her family and graduated from Peoria High School in 1943. She met her husband at Bradley University, where they both sang in an a cappella choir. She graduated with two degrees in piano and would later entertain many Washington visitors with her musical talents.

She married Bob Michel in 1948 and watched her husband go off to Capitol Hill in 1956 after he was first elected to the House. Corinne Michel raised the couple’s four children while her husband served in Washington.

She performed her duties as the wife of a politician with grace and ease until his retirement in 1995. In 1965, she welcomed first lady Lady Bird Johnson to the Peoria County Courthouse Plaza to plant a Japanese cherry tree, and in 1968, she broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the bow of the USS Peoria when it was launched in San Diego.

Corinne Michel is survived by her husband and four children.

A memorial service will be held in Washington at 3 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Church of the Reformation, 222 East Capitol St. Her funeral was scheduled for Sunday in Peoria. Memorial contributions can be made to the Corinne and Bob Michel Scholarship Fund at Bradley University.