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The Third Branch


Judge William E. Crane

Judge William E. Crane

Judge William E. Crane
Winnebago County Circuit Court

Former Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge William E. Crane passed away on Nov. 21 at the age of 89.

Crane was first appointed to the circuit court in 1968 by then-Gov. Warren Knowles, and served until his retirement in 2000. While on the bench, he was a member of the Planning and Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC), Court Reorganization Committee, Civil Jury Instruction Committee, and the Sentencing Guidelines Committee. He was a former chair of the Board of Criminal Court Judges, and served as chief judge of the Eleventh District from 1977-78, and chief judge of the Fourth Judicial District from 1984-90. After his retirement, he served as a reserve judge until 2012.

Crane served in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Aviator from 1943-47, and was part of the Military Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in 2012. He received his bachelor's degree from Carleton College in 1948, and his law degree from UW Law School in 1951. He worked as an attorney in private practice until his appointment to the bench.

In 1997, Crane spoke with Court Information Officer Amanda Todd as part of the Oral History project.

"I guess I've been about 28 years or a little more maybe and it's been great" Crane told Todd. "For the most part as I look back it's like when I was in the Navy, you forget all the bad stuff and just remember the good times you had. So I forget the bad cases and the ones I lost and just go on from here. It's been a great experience."

According to an obituary, Crane is survived by his wife, Jeanne; four children, Steven, Larry, Brian, and Christine; two grandchildren; one great-grandchild; a brother and a sister.

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