ELGIN – Retired Kane County Judge Gene Nottolini was known as a kind, common-sense type of judge.
A respected jurist for 21 years, from 1984 to his retirement in 2005, Nottolini, 69, of Elgin, died Thursday at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin of leukemia, his family said.
Chief Judge Judy Brawka said Nottolini was the kind of judge that a new judge would try to emulate.
"Gene was an extraordinary jurist," Brawka said. "He brought a dignity and understanding of common sense to the proceedings. ... He had an uncanny ability to resolve disputes. That is the job of every judge, but he was able to masterfully settle cases as well as calm people down."
Brawka said Nottolini was respected by attorneys and fellow judges across the state.
"He had assignments from the [Illinois] Supreme Court to serve on various committees," Brawka said. "When Gene retired, we knew we had lost a very good judge. Now that he has passed on, we know we have lost a good friend. We will really miss him."
Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon said in a statement that he was saddened to hear of his death.
"Judge Nottolini was known and respected for his kindness," McMahon said. "He would always make an effort to make people in his courtroom feel comfortable, and he would display great patience with those who were unfamiliar with the court system.
Joseph Nottolini, one of the judge's sons, said his father was a kind, gentle man, but one who commanded a presence when he entered a room.
"He was a large man – yes – he was a big, physical man. He was a presence," his son said. "He could command a room without being obnoxious or being loud. There was a gentleness and a humor about him that gravitated people to him."
A devoted White Sox fan, Joseph Nottolini said his father met his wife, Kay, during their freshman year at St. Edward Central Catholic High School and dated until they married.
Nottolini also served as chief judge from 1993 to 1996 and as ethics adviser for the Kane County Board from 2008 to 2012, and was currently serving on the Ethics Boards for Sherman Hospital and Elgin Community College.
Joseph Nottolini said his father was diagnosed with leukemia around Thanksgiving.
"We wish we'd had more time with him," his son said. "He was a phenomenal family man."
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10 at St. Thomas Catholic Church, 215 Thomas More Drive, Elgin.