Anthony Raccuglia 1933-2019
Anthony C. Raccuglia, 85, of La Salle, died May 18, 2019, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
He was born Sept. 4, 1933, in La Salle and grew up in La Salle-Peru, attending local parochial schools. Raccuglia excelled in athletics, receiving state honors in football, basketball, and baseball. Following high school, he turned down a number of baseball scholarships to sign a professional baseball contract with the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins). He played on the Washington Senators’ High Farm Team systems until he was drafted by the U.S. Army during the Korean War in 1953. While serving, he also played baseball for the Army baseball team.
Following his service to his country, he put himself on a fast track to a law degree, graduating from the University of Illinois, and in 1959 he graduated from the John Marshall Law School, finishing number one in his class.
Approximately one year after graduation, after being appointed first assistant state’s attorney of La Salle County, he was the lead prosecutor in the successful prosecution in the infamous Starved Rock murder case that, at the time, received worldwide attention as being one of the most gruesome murders in the country. Three women from the Chicago suburbs visiting Starved Rock were attacked and killed by a Starved Rock State Park employee.
In 1968, Raccuglia retired from the state’s attorney’s office, although during the eight years that he spent as an assistant state’s attorney, due to the rules and regulations at the time, he was able to practice law full time, which he did, trying numerous jury trials as a plaintiff’s attorney in addition to eight to ten felony cases a year as the lead prosecutor for the county.
Raccuglia was married in June 1955. His daughter, Cynthia, was born in 1956 and is now a circuit court judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit and is in her 20th year on the bench. Raccuglia had another child with his first wife, Shirley (Murtaugh), who died in 1968, his son, David, who is the founder of the American Crew hair product line. In 1977, Raccuglia remarried and had a child from that marriage, to Judy (Franken), his son, Damon, who is a day trader after graduating from the University of Colorado.
Raccuglia continued as a litigator, trying at least three to five cases annually in the medical malpractice and personal injury fields as a plaintiff’s attorney. He was a member of a number of legal societies, including but not limited to the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. He received two awards that he cherished, one the Leonard Ring Award from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and the other the Lauriat award from the Illinois State Bar Association.
Raccuglia practiced law in downstate Illinois in almost all the counties, as well as Cook County and the federal courts during his 53-year career as a litigator, and had numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts, most of which were in the extremely conservative La Salle County area of the 13th Judicial Circuit.
In addition to his legal work, Raccuglia coached little league, junior league, and senior league baseball, and sponsored a softball team, all in La Salle. He was a philanthropist whose greatest joy was helping to provide for the area youth through sports, parks and other recreational opportunities.
Survivors include his partner of 16 years, Dee Butler of La Salle; his daughter, Judge Cynthia Raccuglia of Peru; two sons, David Raccuglia of Denver, Colorado, and Damon Raccuglia of Dimmick; four granddaughters, Vivianna, Olivia, Emma, and Lola Raccuglia; his sister, Theresa Ellerbrock of La Salle; an aunt, Ann Kmieciak of Ottawa; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Shirley; his parents and his brother, Anthony, in childhood.