The Journal of The DuPage County Bar Association

Back Issues > Vol. 12 (1999-00)

William Guild, Sr.
By William Guild III

William L. Guild, Jr. realized many a lawyers’ dream when he was appointed to serve as Attorney General for the State of Illinois 1960. The first from DuPage County to serve as an Illinois Attorney General, Guild was sitting as a County Judge at the time and gave up his seat to take the State level position. Within months he had the formidable task of running for office when Nixon was running against Kennedy in the presidential election. Kennedy won by the slimmest of margins. He carried Illinois (with its pivotal electoral votes) by only 8200 votes. A major controversy surrounded Mayor Richard J. Daley’s ability to "get out the vote" in record numbers in Cook County. As Attorney General, Guild advised the State Electoral Board . He had to review the charges that JFK supporters had fraudulently added to Kennedy’s vote totals. Guild said at the time:

"Many times under the law we have to do what we might not want to do. There is no solid evidence that [GOP presidential candidate Richard] Nixon won the election. Conjecture and speculation won’t do."

Had he found to the contrary, a national crisis would have started. Guild’s ability to avoid conjecture and speculation and focus on the facts served him well during his legal career.

This is a history of William L. Guild, Jr., a lawyer /jurist who practiced law in DuPage County from 1934 to 1980 and loved every minute of it. As a veteran, practicing attorney, Attorney General and Appellate Court Justice, Guild ( rhymes with wild) had a long and successful life and legal career.


Guild was a descendant of a pioneer Du- Page family. Israel Guild came to the Wayne area in the late 1830’s, not long after the Black Hawk war was fought in this area. One of Israel’s son’s was Elias C. Guild, whose farm in Wayne served as a stop on the underground railroad, the system developed to move Slaves to freedom in the North. Elias also served as Justice of the Peace for Wayne from 1860 to 1874. He later went to Medical school and, together with his son, William L. Guild, practiced medicine in both Wheaton and Wayne.

William L. Guild, Jr. was born in 1910 in Wayne Township, the son of Dr. William L. Guild, a beloved country doctor, and Susan Adams Guild, of Wayne and Wheaton, Illinois. While he was very young his parents separated and he and his mother moved away from Wheaton. His earliest years were spent with his mother in Monmouth, Illinois where she attended Monmouth College. Their small house had no electricity at first and had an outside privy. He did not see his father, Doc Guild, until many years later.

While in the fourth grade Guild’s mother was accepted at Northwestern University Law School and the two moved to Chicago. In 1922 Susan Adams Guild graduated from Northwestern Law School, likely one of the first women to do so.

Within months of getting her law degree she became ill with pernicious anemia. After a lengthy illness, Susan Guild died.

Young Guild, only twelve years old, was put on the Aurora and Elgin Railroad and sent out to Wheaton by himself. He was met at the train by one of his cousins, Wendell Loveless.

It was very difficult for such a young man to be shuffled off to strangers, even though they were family. Guild moved in with his dad in the "old red brick" house at the corner of Main and Wesley Streets in downtown Wheaton.

The old red brick was the center of much activity and gained fame as the subject of a water color done by the well known artist Ivan Albright. Highly regarded Naperville Attorney (and past Bar President) Joe Donovan is the owner of the painting. Before the house was torn down in 1940 to make way for a "filling station" and medical building an article in the local paper described the colorful history of the house. Among the numerous visitors listed was S. L. Rathje, whose "sons still live in town, lawyers mostly." One of those sons was Bert Rathje, a well known Wheaton Judge.

Guild lived with his Dad and took his meals with his Aunt. Doc Guild became an increasingly important part of his son’s life. Guild majored in chemistry at Wheaton College with hopes of following his dad’s footsteps by becoming a Doctor. Guild drove his dad on his rounds throughout the county. The old ledgers from that time show that he delivered quite a few babies - all at home. Sometimes he was paid "in kind", bales of hay or produce, and this went in his ledger. Child delivery only cost $5.00 - $10.00. One "in kind" payment was for the delivery of the local barber’s daughter. Doc agreed to accept haircuts as payment. After a few years, and many haircuts, Doc asked how the barber’s daughter, young Betsy, was doing, "Oh great" he said, "and by the way, Doc, she’s all mine now". Doc enquired, "What do you mean?" "Well, Doc, I mean she’s all paid for now." Doc had to cough up the 25 cents for the haircut.

After Wheaton College Guild decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps and attend law school. In 1931, when he registered at Northwestern Law School the registrar said to him, "You aren’t Susie Guild’s little boy, Junior, are you?" This was an event that really touched him. It had been about ten years since his mother had graduated and he was very proud of his mother’s efforts, especially at a time when there were very few, if any, women law students.

After law school Guild returned to Wheaton to hang out his shingle. He was associated with the Hadley and Leren law firm. Judge Bauer recollected helping him move into the old Wheaton National Bank Building. Across the hall another firm started up, Rathje and Woodward, a firm name that survives today near downtown Wheaton. Guild later formed the firm of Elliott and Guild.

Around 1940 Guild was in London working on a Probate case when war broke out and Americans were advised to leave. Guild returned to the United States onboard ship. Also on board was Joseph Kennedy Sr., a U.S. Ambassador, who was leaving London along with his sons. Guild took movies of the boys playing deck tennis.


Guild enlisted as a private on May 28, 1942. He was assigned to the Judge Advocates General (JAG) Office, South Atlantic based at Recife, Brazil as a cryptographer, coding and decoding messages. Guild recounts there were not enough messages being sent or coming in to keep everyone busy. Nonetheless, he had never worked with such intelligent people before.

German submarines were active in the North and South Atlantic. The U.S.S. Wheaton, named for the County Seat of DuPage, was sunk by a U-boat while heading for Recife. Later, after U.S. Forces succeeded in sinking a U-Boat, the German crew were brought to Recife. The Judge Advocate assigned Guild the task of what should or could be done with the prisoners within the Second Geneva Convention guidelines.

Guild used his rudimentary knowledge of Portuguese to translate between the injured German sub captain and his U.S. General. The General would ask questions in English, Guild would translate into Portuguese and his Brazilian counterpart, who spoke German, would translate the question into German. Guild recounted that the German prisoners were an elite corps with exemplary behavior. The prisoner of war compound was the cleanest on the base.

Private Guild wrote an article for the local paper about his first day in camp at Chanute Field, Rantoul, IL. Food was important to the troops and Ozzie described it in detail. He quipped: "at least you don’t have to pay for it". Army clothing, he noted, was too hot. Each recruit receives a complete Army wardrobe, woolen underwear, woolen uniform, woolen hat, shirt and overcoat - all wool - even though the temperature was 95 degrees. "The effect", he wrote, "is that of a Turkish Bath."

In December of 1943 Guild was commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the J.A.G. Department of Air Transport Command. He later served in Canada, Alaska and Washington, D.C., where he rose to the rank of Captain.

While in Canada, Guild met his future bride, a young Scottish lass, at the Edmonton Badminton Club. Florence Dunlap and he were married on July 10, 1945 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Guild and his bride moved to Washington where he continued working in the J.A.G. department. The war was over and Guild was offered a legal assignment to the Nuremburg, Germany War Trials. Guild had been in the service for five years - had a wife, an infant (Susan Isabel) and a home in Wayne. Captain Guild went home in June of 1946.


The truly great thing about the 40’s and 50’s was that you could be in private practice and also hold down a State job as well. After law school and military service Guild returned to Wheaton to practice law. His first job was with the firm of Daniels, Guild and Griesheimer. Lee E. Daniels was DuPage States Attorney. Guild was an employee in the law firm and also worked as an Assistant States Attorney.

It was not long before Guild started his first campaign. In the spring of 1952 he decided to run for the DuPage State’s Attorney position. Lee E. Daniels, State’s Attorney from 1940 to 1952, had announced his candidacy for Illinois Attorney General. The three other candidates running in the primary were Phil Locke, Ed Divorak and Walter Bard Carroll. After Guild won the primary and the general election Judge Bauer, (then assistant States Attorney) asked him what he attributed his success to (in getting elected as DuPage State’s Attorney). Guild quipped that you needed to be nominated by the Republican party and then stay alive until November. Not much has changed since the early fifties.

While States Attorney and later as County Judge, Guild battled groups that wanted to bring pinball and slot machines into the County. In an era before State run lotteries, Guild supported an ordinance that established pinball registration and a licensing ordinance that kept those groups in their "Cook County playground".

Guild’s assistants after he was elected States Attorney were Irv Wilson, Ed Greisheimer, Bill Bauer, Willard E. Cain and Jack Bowers. Harris Fawell was an investigator for the office. William Valentine Hopf, better known as Doc Hopf soon came on board. Doc was to become a life long friend and co-worker. Doc had been elected Justice of the Peace soon after completing military service in Korea and also worked in the Elliott, Guild and Greisheimer Law Firm. He then became an assistant under Guild. Doc followed Guild’s footsteps in years to come as States Attorney, Circuit Judge and Appellate Court Justice for the Second District. In 1997, Guild’s youngest daughter, Peggy, married Hopf’s oldest son, Paul. They live in Saugatuck, Michigan.

During this era there were two forms of law enforcement that have been eliminated, the Justice of the Peace (J.P.) and the Police Magistrate (P.M.) positions. They performed preliminary legal work throughout the county and the States Attorney Office would get involved only after preliminary hearings had occurred and/or charges had been brought against the accused. There was no requirement for legal training to be a J.P. or a P.M. These officials had original authority for preliminary hearings, even burglary, arson and more serious felonies.

Significant problems arose under this system. Only after the charges had been brought would the State’s Attorney’s Office be brought into the case. By this time the matter had already been reported in the local newspapers and hence could be the subject of public debate. Frequently the State’s Attorney’s Office would be criticized because charges were dropped after the public had been told of serious criminal charges. Sometimes the charges were not proper because the JP or the P.M. did not have a good understanding of the law.

One egregious example of this involved a poor soul in the north part of the DuPage who was charged with "operating a disorderly house", a prostitution related charge. When the State’s Attorney inquired how the J.P. had learned there was a disorderly house operating, the J.P. said "well, he could see junk piled all over the guy’s front yard". Later, after the newspaper had their say, the charges were dropped. To be elected a JP you had to be alive, over 21 and get elected. Some J.P.s were insurance salesmen who were in a position to give a substantial break to the accused if they were already insurance customers. Problems also arose with J.P.’s collection of fines. The Blue Ballot of 1960 eliminated these positions and created Circuit and County Judge positions. After

that only attorneys could serve as judges (with a few exceptions).

Guild served as States Attorney from 1952 to 1958. Years later, after both Doc Hopf and Bill Bauer succeeded him in that office, all three agreed the State’s Attorney was the most enjoyable position they held. The daily stream of unusual conduct was challenging and interesting.

In 1958 DuPage County split off from a multi-county district and became the 18th Judicial Circuit. Guild was elected County Judge. Jack Bowers was appointed State’s Attorney and a special election was set. Assistant State’s Attorney William J. Bauer ran against him and won in a special election. Bauer soon went on the bench and was, in time, elevated to the federal court where he is now a senior judge on the Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Bauer recollects that his six years in the State’s Attorney Office were a combination of hard work and some very serious fun as well. For example, one story that has passed down through the years occurred the day before a Memorial Day weekend just after Guild was elected county Judge in 1958. Late in the afternoon in the States Attorney’s Office, Guild, Bauer and Hopf were getting ready to close up shop. Bauer, who was quite good on the harmonica, was playing "Yankee Doodle Dandy". Guild picked up the U.S. flag and sang along with Bauer. Doc Hopf was slapping some rulers together and the three started marching around a table in the office making quite a ruckus. Harris Fawell (former U.S. Congressman) came to the door. Fawell had a client with him who inquired, "Who are these guys?" Fawell explained, "Well, the guy with the flag is the judge, the guy with the harmonica is the State’s Attorney and the big guy slapping the rulers together is his assistant".

Another example of the comraderie in the office involved a trip to Michigan. Guild spent many weekends in Saugatuck, Michigan where he had a summer cottage. One weekend he wanted to bring an old refrigerator up to Saugatuck and Bauer was able to borrow a truck to help out. He and Joe Donovan, a prominent attorney in private practice, drove the truck while Guild followed behind in his lime green convertible with his young son. It became dark and Bauer realized the truck lights did not work and he could not see the road. Guild took the lead, Bauer followed close behind and all concerned made it safely to Saugatuck with the old refrigerator. John McKay, former bar president and Wheaton attorney was another Saugatuck visitor. He and Bauer were assigned the duty of making sure the author of this article did not eat too much sand at the Oval Beach on Lake Michigan. Doc Hopf liked the Saugatuck area so well he bought the cottage next door to Guild’s. .

Bauer described Guild’s style as letting you do your job independently and without interference, unless a major problem developed. He got along beautifully with him.


In 1960 Guild was appointed Attorney General for the State of Illinois, to replace Grenville Beardsley who died near the end of his term. When Governor Stratton phoned Guild at home late on a Sunday night in June and offered him the appointment, Guild had been asleep. He told the Governor he would call him back in the morning. He accepted. Guild said he imagined it was the dream of every lawyer to be Attorney General - the top legal position in the State. The offer came to him "like a bolt from the blue."

My recollection of that day is that my crayfish catching at Northside Park in Wheaton was interrupted. My sister, Susy ran a half mile from the house to tell me I had to come home and get cleaned up so family photos could be taken for the newspapers.

The local paper said "Political insiders were surprised" by the appointment. They thought Guild had "cooked his own goose, politically" with a previous probe of improper expenditures by the DuPage County Supervisors. Years earlier, as States Attorney, Guild had started an investigation which caused a stir in the press. All but two of the supervisors repaid their illegal expenditures, but some local power figures did not forget the embarrassment this caused for the County Supervisors. Guild’s successor in the States Attorney post, William J. Bauer, filed claims against them. Guild’s appointment also came as a shock to Republican leaders who thought a Chicago attorney would be selected. Once appointed, the party supported Guild. Incidentally, Guild’s salary increased from $13,500-a-year as Judge to $16,000 as Attorney General.

Guild’s candidacy as Attorney General was foreshadowed by his great uncle, Charles W. Hadley, who, was also a former State’s Attorney of DuPage County who ran for Attorney General. Hadley ran against Otto Kerner in the late 30’s. Hadley was a well known attorney, who teamed up with Clarence Darrow for the George Munding murder trial. A 1925 article about this trial said Hadley and Darrow "made a hero of the killer". Alas, the defendant was convicted, but he did "cheat the gallows" with a life term.

Guild campaigned with a vengeance all over the State of Illinois. County fairs, Republican picnics and church socials would get his attention. In the summer when school was out he always took one of his four children, myself included, on his campaign trips throughout the State.

As chief legal officer for the State, Guild’s duties ranged from reviewing the State Board of Election results of the Presidential election, to rendering traffic law opinions. He gave an opinion that farmers wagons were not subject to registration under the Illinois Motor Vehicle law, so long as they are used on the highway for farm purposes. Farm wagons and trailers, were "instruments of husbandry". Guild also opined that the Justice of the Peace Act should be revised by the 1961 legislature so that these offices would be subject to review by the county judge or state court administrator, rather than the County Board of Supervisors. At the time fines collected by the J.P.s would be turned over to the County Board.

The statewide campaign for the Attorney General was hard fought. However, Guild and all other Republican state officials lost in 1960 and Guild returned to his Wheaton roots.


In 1961Guild returned to Wheaton and worked in private practice for a short time. He practiced in the old firm of Elliott and Guild out of his Wesley Street law building.. Doc Hopf was associated with the firm.

Public service drew him back again and in 1962 Guild was re-elected county Judge. Following judicial reform, he became an Associate Judge in 1964. He heard county, probate and civil jury cases. In 1967 he began hearing divorce and personal injury cases. A great picture of the members of the DuPage Bar, taken in 1961, before Guild returned to the bench, can be seen at the DuPage Judicial Center, just outside Courtroom 2014. In 1961 DuPage had only four Judges. One floor up, outside the State’s Attorneys Office another group photo of the DuPage Bar was taken seven years later. In 1968 the number of Judges had doubled to eight! Take a look at these pictures when you can.

In 1970 a vacancy on the Second District Appellate Court and the Supreme Court opened up. Although Guild was a serious contender for the high court, he was appointed to the Appellate Court in Elgin and later elected to a ten year term. He adapted well to the quiet research atmosphere of the Appellate Court. For example, he and Justice Seidenfeld ordered red T-shirts made up emblazoned with "The Mighty Second". Spirits were high for the three justices and reversals were rare. Were the Justices wearing these shirts under their robes during oral arguments? No one is talking. Guild authored hundreds of opinions in his ten year term on the Appellate Court. He spent substantial time reviewing the Rice Estate appeals. He retired in 1979 the same year his son William L. Guild, III was admitted to the bar.

Throughout his career, Guild was an active civic leader. He served as Trustee of Geneva Community Hospital, vestryman at Trinity Episcopal Church and he was president of a number of organizations, including the DuPage Bar Association, the Sons of the Revolution and the Western DuPage YMCA. He also served on the Board of Governors for the Illinois State Bar Association. Guild was a charter member of the Flaxseed Club, a Wheaton group begun in 1947 with no express purpose other than to meet for lunch. This group recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.

Early in his career Guild’s wife Dolly shouldered most of the child rearing duties. She had her hands full with four children, Susan, William III, Betsy and Peggy. However, Guild always made time for the important events in his childrens’ lives, especially during summers in Michigan, where things were more relaxed and recreation was paramount.

In 1980 Guild retired from the bench but still kept active in the law. He served as an arbitrator, worked with the Appellate Defender Project and worked out of his Wesley Street office.

After retiring Guild authored many articles on the history of Wheaton and Guild family history. Many of these articles appeared in the Wheaton papers. Guild traveled and spent as much time as he could at his Saugatuck, Michigan home where his wife kept him busy.

He passed away in 1993 at 83 years of age in his Wheaton home. His wife of forty eight years, Dolly, continues to reside in Wheaton and has seven grandchildren.

Guild’s career had a true frontier spirit in his approach to life and his work. As lawyer, public servant, family man and civic leader Guild had a long and distinguished career. As Judge Bauer said of Guild: "he was one of the nice guys of all time".

William L. Guild III is a third generation Wheaton lawyer. He received his law degree from Lewis University in 1979. He is a Sole Practitioner in Winfield and lives in Wheaton with his wife Ann and son Bret William.

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