|Judge John J. Ahern Sr., 64, an associate judge in Cook County Circuit Court and a
former Chicago police officer, died of a heart attack Thursday in Edgewater Hospital.
Appointed to the 1st Municipal District in 1983, Judge Ahern was the first judge assigned to the
domestic violence court, which was established during his first term on the bench. He received an
award from the Women's Bar Association for outstanding work in the court.
"He tried to give the appearance of being gruff, but he was a softie,"
said Judge Dennis Horan, a close friend. "He was an excellent judge and he was very fair. I thought
the world of him."
Born in Chicago, Judge Ahern graduated from Loyola Academy and Loyola University in Chicago.
At the onset of World War II, Ahern, then 18, entered the Navy and served in a construction battalion
based in Guam. During the Korean War, he worked in the security division of the Great Lakes Naval
Base. He was a member of AmVets, the American Legion and VFW.
After returning from the service, Judge Ahern joined the Chicago Police Department,
where his father, Michael, had worked for many years as an officer. He remained on the
police force from 1952 to 1959.
Judge Ahern spent the next several years with the Chicago Board of Education, investigating break-ins
and juvenile deliquency cases and monitoring security at the public schools. During this time, he attended
evening classes at De Paul Law School in Chicago. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar Association in 1962.
Upon receiving his law degree, Judge Ahern entered private practice with his brother, James.
Their firm dealt with cases ranging from criminal to real estate to personal injury. Judge Ahern
also participated in the Lawyer's Assistance Program, counseling attorneys who suffered from
drug or alcohol dependency.
"An important part of being a judge is knowing and understanding people, in addition to having
competence with the law," said Donald O'Connell, presiding judge of the 1st Municipal District.
"His background helped give him this additional dimension," he said.
"Judge Ahern was very hard working, very personable and very considerate," O'Connell said.
A resident of Rogers Park on the North Side for 28 years, Judge Ahern founded the Edgewater
Neighborhood Association and was actively involved with local Boy Scouts troops.
He is survived by his wife, Jayne; two sons, John Jr. and Brian; four daughters, Ellen,
Jeanette, Marjorie Thibault and Mary Elizabeth; two sisters; a brother; and four grandchildren.
Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Gertrude Church, 1420 W. Granville Ave.