Robert W. Behl

A Life Well Lived. That describes Attorney Robert W. Behl of Columbus, Wisconsin who died on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at the Larson House in Columbus, WI at the age of 98. He was born on January 24, 1920 in Columbus, WI to Otto R. and Ella L (Ehlert) Behl. In 1927 his family moved from Columbus to Racine, WI where he spent most of his childhood. During his teen years, however, he returned to Columbus and spent his summers with his father, who due to the depression years was found to remain at his job as a Telegraph and Passenger Agent at the Columbus Depot, until his retirement in 1940.

Robert graduated from Washington Park High School in Racine in 1938. He continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison during the school term of 1939-40. He was called into service by the U.S. Army in February 1942 and remained there until March of 1946. During those years he attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant. His overseas assignments took him to Newfoundland for a year, and then he went on to Hawaii, Guadalcanal, New Britain, New Guinea, Australia, the Philippine Islands and Korea. In the Pacific Theatre he was assigned to the 40th Army Division.

After the war and while still on Terminal Leave from the Army, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin – Madison at mid-term. He was united in marriage with Janet Goodland on Feb 23, 1946. Janet was the daughter of Judge Elmer D. Goodland and Dorothea (Ramsay) Goodland of Racine, WI. The couple resumed their college careers in Madison after Janet’s transfer from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. Robert received a Bachelor of Science degree from the Business School in 1948 and his LLB Degree from the Law School in 1950. The couple moved to Columbus, WI in August 1949 when Robert was employed by the Herbert L Zeidler Law Firm. Robert was awarded his Doctor of Law Degree from the University of Wisconsin -Madison on August 26, 1977.

During his professional career, he specialized in legal matters relating to the probating of estates, transfers of real estate and income tax. The traits of integrity and prudence were firmly embedded in his character with the results that many of his attorney-client relationships were converted into lifetime friendships. He served many terms in public office as Justice of the Peace, Court Commissioner for Columbia County and City Attorney for the City of Columbus, WI. He devoted many of his hours to community service as a member of the local Kiwanis Club for almost 68 years, the American Legion, VFW Post 8090 and as Executive Secretary of United Fund when it was known as the Columbus Community Chest. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Columbus Community Hospital for several years and was the President of the Board during the difficult transition years when the local St. Mary’s Hospital became the Columbus Community Hospital at it new location on Park Avenue. His board members were responsible for all of the planning, selection of site, architecture and contractors, and the early construction of the new hospital.