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JOSEPH J. BITTER 1937-2007


Posted By: Volunteer
Date: 11/19/2007 at 10:01:34

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Joseph J. Bitter

Joseph J. Bitter, 69, of Dubuque, died Monday, Oct. 1, 2007, at home surrounded by his family.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Resurrection Catholic Church, where friends may call from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Friday. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery. The Hoffmann-Schneider and Kitchen Funeral Home, 3860 Asbury Road, is in charge of arrangements.

He was born on Nov. 9, 1937, in Dubuque, youngest child of Alfred and Patricia (O'Donnell) Bitter.

He attended Loras Academy, Loras College and The University of Iowa Law School before returning to Dubuque in 1964 to establish his law practice. He practiced law in Dubuque for 43 years. In June of 1996, Joe was proud to have his son Tom join him in practice.

Joe served on the Dubuque City Council from 1970 to 1973, and as mayor of Dubuque in 1973.

Surviving are his wife, Carol (Neuwoehner); her parents, Bob and Marion Neuwoehner; Carol's siblings, Robert (Alana) Neuwoehner, Russell (Jeanne) Neuwoehner, Leslie (Colin) Collins and Sara (John) Wagner; Joe has three siblings, Patrick (Nikki) Bitter, of Solihull West Midlands, UK, Jack, of Orangevale, Calif., and Sheila (Chuck) Edwards, of Tinley Park, Ill.; and an uncle, Joe (Ruth) O'Donnell, of Mason City.

Joe and Carol have six children, Anne (Vince) LoGrande, of Highland Park, Ill., Margaret (Ted) MacBeth, of Lake Forest, Ill., and Joe (Kathy) Bitter, Susie (Brett) Noonan, and Tom (Stephanie) Bitter, all of Dubuque, and Kate (Drew) Bisping, of Denver.

Nothing made Joe more proud than his family, most importantly his fifteen grandchildren, Lizzy, Kate and Mia LoGrande, Stella, Jake, Joe and Nick MacBeth, Sophie Bitter, Amelia, Audrey, Caroline and Clara Noonan and Allison, Tommy and Holly Bitter.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Patricia Bitter; and brother-in-law, James Creswell.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the Joseph J. Bitter Memorial Fund administered through The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. The Joseph J. Bitter Memorial Fund will benefit organizations that support Joe's passion for sports and his love of kids.

We are ever grateful for the love and respect of Joe's many friends and colleagues, the endless support of "the girls" at the office, and the wonderful care of Hospice of Dubuque, especially Sherry.



Well-known Dubuque lawyer dies from cancer

By CRAIG D. REBER TH staff writer

Clad in gray sweatpants, a hooded sweatshirt and a navy blue knit stocking cap topping his head, Dubuque attorney Joe Bitter was a familiar sight, running along Asbury Road, waving to friends as he went.

"He was a very active guy," said Allan Carew, a fellow attorney who practices law in Dubuque. "He loved to jog. He loved to watch his children and grandchildren participate in sports, including soccer and tennis. He also had a faithful group of clientele whom he served well. He was a very likable guy. I think the people who dealt with him thought he was likable, and his clients certainly did."

When Bitter died at his home of cancer on Monday at 69, he was arguably one of the city's most well-known attorneys. He also served on the Dubuque City Council in the early 1970s and as mayor in 1973.

"He was one of the most colorful characters in our legal community," said Bob Day, a Dubuque attorney. "He was known as a guy who would rather litigate than breathe. He loved the courtroom, he loved trial work. He was tremendous on his feet."

Day recalled there were times that what Bitter lacked in preparation, he more than made up for in "zeal."

"He had that ability to kind of dance on the floor in the courtroom, the ability to think on his feet," Day said. "He'd put on his clip-on tie on the way to court and say: 'We're going to rock and roll.'"

Dubuque attorney Bob Klauer worked with Bitter in 1969-70, shortly after completing law school. The two continued to keep in weekly contact through the years.

"He was an extraordinary attorney, extremely bright," Klauer said. "He was a real colorful character, dedicated to the legal profession. Law was his whole life."

Facing Bitter in the courtroom "on the other side," Klauer added, "you knew you would have your hands full."

Klauer noted that Bitter never judged his cases by the money, pointing out he did a lot of pro-bono work.

"Nothing was ever said about it," Klauer said. "He was an attorney for the people. Joe was a bulldog. He'd never roll over."

Bitter was known as a kind man, with a keen sense of humor.

"He was always nice and easy to work with," said Deb Calhoun, who works in court administration in the Dubuque County courthouse.

Deb Zenner, Calhoun's co-worker, said Bitter was the kind of individual who was always upbeat, even after he had been diagnosed with the illness that killed him.

"He knew what was facing him," she said. "He was never upset. He was happy to have this day. He never mentioned a word about himself. He was very compassionate. He was a hard worker to a fault. He took on more cases than he could physically handle. He couldn't say no."

One of Bitter's longtime legal secretaries, Jodee Theisen, agreed.

"He always helped anybody who needed help," said Theisen, who spent 27 years in Bitter's office. "He had a hard time saying no. He fought to the death for his clients. He was a wonderful boss and a wonderful friend. He was kind of like a dad to me."

Bitter kept his five-person law office staff busy. So busy, Klauer explained, that Bitter's wife, Carol, sometimes took vacations alone because Joe didn't want to take off work.

His law practice and family were No. 1 in Bitter's life.

"He was certainly known for his love, affection and devotion to his family," Day said.

Klauer recalled Bitter never used foul language, drank alcohol or smoked. Humility was a trait.

"He had absolutely no pretensions of grandeur," Day said. "He was a short-sleeve kind of guy, absolutely down-to-earth. He had no attitude of superiority to anybody. He was a great human being."

Copyright (c) Woodward Communications, Inc. 2007,


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