The Bar News

Donald Tennant 1931-2020

Donald M. Tennant was born on Oct. 2, 1931, in Troy, N.Y., to Freda (Haas) and John Tennant. At two weeks of age, the family moved to Chicago and then to Milwaukee, Wis. He married the love of his life of 67 years, Nancy C. Estaque, when they eloped to Walnut Ridge, Ark., on July 25, 1953.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; son, Michael Everett Tennant (Judy); two daughters, Susan Tennant (McGill) Manning (Patrick) of Plano, Texas, Elizabeth Tennant Brotherton (Mark) of Bossier City, La.; and a daughter-in-law, Dianne Tennant Rucker (Craig) of Prescott, Ariz.

Grandfather of 14: Jamie, Austin, Jack (Jenna) and Adrianne Tennant, Ryne (Amy), Graham (Hillary) and Jace (Linnea) Tennant, Elliott (Emily), Tyler (Julianne), Colin (Ellen) and Sarah McGill and Douglas (Megan), Michael (Sarah) and Eric Brotherton.

Mr. Tennant ("GPa") also had 18 great-grandchildren, Collette, Delany, Todd, Vince, Parker, Margot, John, Charlotte, Sebastian, Grace, Chipper, Amelia, Tennant Lane, Madison, Peyton, Taylor, Everett and Reagan; a brother, Tom (Jane) Tennant of Boise, Idaho; along with many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his son, Todd Michael Tennant; parents, John and Freda Tennant; sister, Jean Tennant Rutherford; and brother, John Tennant.

Mr. Tennant attended schools in Menomonie Falls, Wis., where he was an outstanding athlete in baseball, football and basketball. He graduated high school in 1949 and moved with his family to Springfield. He decided to pass on an athletic baseball scholarship to the University of Illinois and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1950. He was stationed in Okinawa and volunteered to go to Korea to fight in the Korean War, where he earned a Bronze Star. Mr. Tennant was always very proud to be a combat veteran, and he was honored to have served his country.

Mr. Tennant returned home and started his college education at Springfield Junior College and transferred to the University of Illinois. He received his law degree in 1958 and promptly began his law practice with Dobbins and Fraker in Champaign. In 1965, he became a full partner and began Dobbins, Fraker, & Tennant that would become Dobbins, Fraker, Tennant, Joy, & Perlstein. He spent most of his career defending medical malpractice claims with his son, Todd, and they were an outstanding trial attorney team.

He was a member of the Champaign County Bar, Illinois State Bar, the American Bar, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Illinois Defense Council, the American College of Trial Lawyers and the John E. Cribbet Society at the UI Law School. He was honored as a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and a pillar of the Champaign County Bar.  He was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award and member of the Dean's Club by the UI Law School. He taught trial advocacy for 18 years at the UI Law School. He was council member, lecturer and moderator of the Civil Practice and Procedure Section of the Illinois State Bar Association, as well as chairman and lecturer of the Drainage and Levy Law Section. He also served as president of the Champaign County Bar.

As a loyal Illini, he was a member of the UI Presidents Club, UI Foundation, life member of the UI Alumni Association and supporter of Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, a 40-year season ticket holder for football, basketball and, in later years, volleyball.

Mr. Tennant was a member of First Baptist Church of Savoy and served on many committees, was a deacon, and taught Sunday school. His special joy in serving the Lord was playing his harmonica at nursing homes.

Aside from his law practices, he served as a president of the Champaign County Urban League and was active in Western Little League.

He enjoyed playing tennis, golf, sailing and traveling in their motor home. His greatest joy was the time spent watching his children and grandchildren in sports and other school activities. A special time was attending the 2012 Summer Olympics to watch his grandson win a gold medal. He enjoyed playing Santa Claus for family and friends.

Posted on November 2, 2020 by Rhys Saunders

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