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James Elson 1931-2015

James ElsonJames J. Elson, 84, died at Graham Hospital in Canton Monday, Nov. 9, 2015.

He was born at Pontiac Aug. 5, 1931, the son of Howard J. and Bernadine (Twomey) Elson. He married Nancy Popel at Lena Aug. 7, 1954. She survives, along with their five children, Marygrace  (Don Schroeder) Elson, Iowa City, Iowa, Joan Bernadine (Steven) Moore, Chicago, James J. (Alice M. Stevens) Elson Jr., Canton, Stephen P. (Ann M.) Elson, Miami, Fla., and John C. (Andrea M.) Elson, Fort Collins, Colo. He is the beloved grandfather of 10 grandchildren, Stephen, Brian, Charlotte, Gabriela, Michael, Kerri, Joseph, Katherine, Matilda and Edward; two stepgrandchildren, Gabrielle and Grace; and great-grandfather of Olivia. He is further survived by two sisters, Mary Anne Elson, Springfield, and Carol (Victor) Abell, West Lafayette, Ind.

Following graduation from the former Chenoa High School, Jim received his undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois, earning his B.S. degree from the U. of I. College of Agriculture with High Honors. He then received his Juris Doctor degree from the College of Law at the University of Illinois. He was a member of the faculty at the University of Illinois College of Law for four years including authoring a legal text on agricultural law Legal Handbook for Directors and Members of Illinois Co-ops, and a circular, "Legal Descriptions of Illinois Real Estate." This was followed by three years of active duty as a Judge Advocate (Captain) in the U.S. Air Force.

Following his release from active duty, he practiced law for one year in Pontiac, then moved to Canton,where he practiced until retirement in 2009. Prior to retiring, he served as City Attorney for the City of Canton for a total of nine years.

Jim was active in the Illinois State Bar Association and in 2001 was honored as a Laureate of the Illinois Academy of Lawyers as representative of the highest ideals of the profession. He served on the Board of Governors of the ISBA for eight years and in the ISBA Assembly for 13 years. He chaired the Illinois lawyers’ political action committee. He served on the Board of Visitors of the College of Law at the University of Illinois. He was a founding member and served 40 years on the board of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund Inc., of Illinois including board chair. He was a founding director and past board chair of ISBA Mutual Insurance Co., an Illinois lawyer-owned and operated liability insurance company.

Jim was a trustee of the Parlin-Ingersoll Public Library of Canton for 30 years. He served as president of the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce in 1970 and was later honored by the Chamber as Citizen of the Year in 1985. He was active in St. Mary’s Church in Canton and served as a lector and as an extraordinary eucharistic minister and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. With his wife, Nancy, he established a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame and a named dining room to the Newman Foundation at the University of Illinois.

Jim financed the restoration and installation of the stained glass windows from the original Parlin Library, now in the Quiet Reading Room of the of the current library building. He donated the restoration and installation of a stained glass window which survived the 1903 fire that destroyed the previous St. Mary’s church. He was active in the Fulton County Playhouse and continued as a supporter of that organization. He was a president of the Friendship Festival Association.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the St. Mary Church food pantry or to the Parlin-Ingersoll Library for the Elson project.

Services have been held. Arrangements were by Oak-Hines Funeral Home in Canton.

Posted on November 16, 2015 by Morgan Yingst

Member Comments (2)

The organized bar owes much to Jim Elson and he will be missed. I am grateful to have known him and to have benefitted from his service to the ISBA Board of Governors, ISBAMIC and ATG.

James and Alice:
My condolences to you and your family.