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The Honorable Dennis Gene Montabon, age 78, died on March 10, 2022.
Judge Montabon was born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, on September 30, 1943, to Frank William Montabon and Laura Elizabeth (Krubsack) Montabon. Following graduation from Tomahawk High School in 1961, he became a Badger, earning a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965.
While working full-time as an Inspector for the U.S. Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, he attended night school at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois, and completed his Juris Doctorate in 1972. He would later be honored as a Distinguished Alumnus.
Shortly after returning to northern Wisconsin to practice law, Dennis successfully ran for the position of District Attorney for Lincoln County. Before the ink was dry on his law degree, he received three murder cases to prosecute – a Lincoln County record. He won them all.
In 1976, Dennis moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, which became his long-term home. He went into public service again, being appointed a Circuit Court judge in 1978, and won re-election in April 1979. His deep bass voice commanded the courtroom and could grab the attention of even the surliest defendant. He was known for his wisdom, tough-but-fair rulings, and the occasional humorous soundbite. Although he presided over several notable criminal cases in La Crosse County history, his favorite docket items were adoptions because of the joy they brought to the courtroom. He retired from the bench in 2006.
Despite his professional accomplishments, Dennis’s greatest titles were those of Husband, Father, and Grandfather. He loved having his family together for holidays and vacations. He married fellow Tomahawk native Julie Bishop on November 4, 1967, and they created a remarkable marriage of over 54 years. He is survived by Julie and their three children: Frank (Sheryl), Anthony (Jani Jensen), and Sara (Rudi Rughoonundon), as well as four grandchildren (Vincent, Lillian, Maxwell, and Beatrix), and his two nieces Lou Ann Burke and Tina Durham. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother and sister-in-law, Lee and Shirley, his sister Jacqueline, and his nephew Alan.
Dennis was also known for so much more: the spaghetti sauce he made for the annual Aquinas High School Booster Club auction, his volunteer work throughout the community, such as the Chileda shrimp boil, the immaculate garden he maintained at the family home at 15th and State, his love for the Badgers and the Green Bay Packers, and his legendary Birthday/Oktoberfest parties where he was the life of the party.
Visitation will be March 19, 9:30 AM, at Roncalli Newman Catholic Parish, with funeral Mass to follow at 11:00 AM. Per parish policy, masks are required. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be sent to Catholic Charities, Roncalli Newman, or Aquinas Catholic Schools Foundation.
Dennis was loved by so many and will be endlessly missed.
Court is adjourned.
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