November 06, 2003
Capitol Hill services for Corinne Michel Hastert, Rumsfeld
among 350 filling Washington church
By PAUL KRAWZAK and DORI MEINERT
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 350 people gathered Wednesday at a Capitol Hill memorial service for Corinne Michel, the wife of former longtime House Republican Leader Bob Michel of Peoria.
No political leaders spoke at the service for Corinne Michel, who died last month, but the church was filled with Washington VIPs, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and many current and former members of Congress.
"It was a magnificent service," said U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, who was Michel's chief of staff before being elected to replace him in 1994.
LaHood and his wife, Kathy, were close friends with the Michels, going to dinner with them at least once a month.
"She was a very smart person, a very well-read person," LaHood recalled after the service. "She was very up on the issues, but she never really wanted to be out there in front and seeking the spotlight."
Corinne had played an active role in the Congressional Club for members of Congress and their spouses and the Republican Congressional Spouses organization, as well as numerous other organizations.
Scott Michel, a Chicago attorney and the oldest of the four Michel children, spoke of his memories of his mother.
"She was just a very special individual who had an innate quality to make you feel like you were the only person in the room when she talked to you," Scott said. "In this political environment, where everyone is always looking over their shoulder to see who's next, it was a real change to have someone like her who was genuinely interested in whoever
she was with."
Michel died Oct. 22 at age 77 from complications from a stroke she suffered after surgery last January. The Michels had been married 54 years.
Scott said he once asked his mother what she found so appealing about his father because their personalities were so different.
"She said, 'Aside from the fact that I loved him, he was a rock,' " Scott recalled. "Since her stroke, I've come to realize she was his rock. It's been really heartbreaking. I don't think any of us realized how much he relied on her."