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 indispensable 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.