Bitzer, John (1952-2023) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Bitzer, John (1952-2023)

Historical Note: John L. Bitzer was born on October 21, 1952 in Shelbyville, IL and passed away on July 14, 2023 in Collinsville, IL. Just prior to graduating from Shelbyville, IL High School in 1970, John Bitzer auditioned for the role of Chief Illiniwek with Marching Illini director Everett Kissinger adjudicating the audition. He was offered the position as a senior and served as Chief Illiniwek from 1970 until his graduation from the University of Illinois in 1974. John and his father, Robert, were the only father and son duo who both served as Chief Illiniwek. On October 5, 1974, both father and son were invited to perform as Chief Illiniwek during the  University's Dad's Day celebration football match versus California. John became a legacy member of Beta Theta Pi in 1970 and inspired several of his fraternity brothers to audition for and serve as Chief Illiniwek. John graduated in 1974 with a degree in psychology. After spending a year backpacking in Europe, he was admitted into John Marshall Law Schoolm where he graduated in 1979. Following this, Bitzer practiced law in Collinsville, IL with Dunham, Bowman, and Leskera until he opened his own firm in 2008. He and his wife, Mary Ann, had three children.
Note Author: Nolan Vallier

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