Judge Also Took to Ring, Cockpit: Boxer-Turned-Flier Later Served Cook County Circuit Court
By Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune
Jul. 28–Anthony J. Bosco, 80, who was a welterweight boxer and Air Force flight instructor before spending two decades as a Cook County Circuit Court judge, died Friday, July 25, at his son’s home in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood.
Growing up an only child on Racine Avenue in Little Italy, Mr. Bosco was a rambunctious boy who got into a few street fights, eventually drawing the notice of a history teacher and boxer at St. Ignatius High School.
The teacher put him in the ring and beat him soundly. The training helped Mr. Bosco, who joined the Navy in 1945 after graduating from high school, become a unit champion, Mr. Bosco said in a 1995 profile by Chicago Lawyer magazine. The magazine dubbed him “Santa Claus with barbs.”
Mr. Bosco left the Air Force on a medical retirement after a plane he was in crashed in Texas. He received an undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University in 1953 and his law degree from DePaul University three years later. Mr. Bosco was an attorney in private practice for 16 years before being named to the bench in 1972 with help from his uncle, Circuit Judge Pasquale A. Sorrentino.
The same year he received his law degree, Mr. Bosco married Barbara Kilz. The two, who would be married 52 years, had met three years earlier when she visited from California, said their oldest son, Joe. Mr. Bosco proposed on their first date, but they corresponded before marrying and having two children.
The new couple carried on a Bosco family tradition–Sunday dinners at their River Forest home–virtually without fail.
“You either had to be dead or in the hospital not to have the family meal,” said Joe Bosco, also an attorney. “He invited people to the house. He loved to preside over a big table.”
He loved playing chess and enjoyed flying, but Mr. Bosco’s real passion was the law, his son said. He loved the complexity of civil litigation trials but also enjoyed mentoring younger attorneys and, after retiring from the bench in 1995, mediating disputes, Joe Bosco said. He resolved some 1,600 cases during his “retirement” years, his son said, and was still taking cases until about two weeks ago.
Mr. Bosco delayed retiring from the Circuit Court for three years so he could complete a class-action lawsuit he filed against the state over its life-insurance plan.
“I am David fighting Goliath,” Mr. Bosco told the Tribune in 1993. “I’ve spent 21 years of my life as a highly qualified judge. What they want me to do is to die in office. I am not going to do that. I am going to win and I am going to retire. Someday.”
Illinois eventually bolstered the insurance plan as a result of the lawsuit and Mr. Bosco retired, Joe Bosco said.
Other survivors include his wife, Barbara; another son, John; and four grandchildren.
Visitation will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday at St. Vincent Ferrer Church, 7525 North Ave., River Forest. Mass will be said there at 10 a.m.
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