John B. "Jack" Roe

Posted 11/28/20

John B. Roe, known as Jack, of Grand Detour, and Holmes Beach, Florida, died Nov. 27, 2020, at the age of 78 from a very rare untreatable form of cancer known as Myelofibrosis.

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John B. "Jack" Roe


GRAND DETOUR — John B. Roe, known as Jack, of Grand Detour, and Holmes Beach, Florida, died Nov. 27, 2020, at the age of 78 from a very rare untreatable form of cancer known as Myelofibrosis.

Jack enjoyed horse racing, golf, reading and traveling.

He attended Oregon schools and graduated from Centre College of Kentucky 1964. He attended American University, George Washington University Political Honors and University of Illinois Law School 1967.

Jack was elected Ogle County State’s Attorney in 1968 and was the youngest states attorney in Illinois history. He taught Criminal Justice at Sauk Valley and Kishwaukee Colleges for five years. He was admitted to practice in the United State’s Supreme Court 1969.

Jack served two terms in the Illinois Senate from 1973 to 1979. While in the Senate, he sponsored the Illinois Campaign Disclosure Act requiring candidates for public office to disclose their contributors and their expenditures. He sponsored Governor Thompson’s Class X anti-crime bills providing for mandatory sentences for crimes of violence such as murder, armed robbery, rape etc. He sponsored the Horse Racing Act of 1976 completely revising the administration of horse racing in Illinois. He also sponsored the No Fault Divorce Act.

Jack was instrumental in obtaining the money necessary to construct the Illinois Route 251 overpass in Rochelle.

In 1979, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Illinois Court of Claims by Governor Jim Thompson.

Jack was a member of the Rochelle Grade School Board Dist. 231 from 1982 to 1984. He practiced law in Rochelle from 1973 to 1995; first as JOHN B. ROE; then as ROE & MALLON; then ROE, MALLON & TESS. He was appointed Circuit Judge in 1995 by the Illinois Supreme Court and elected Circuit Judge in 1996.

After retiring as a Judge in 2000 he was a member of the Governor’s Commission to Revise and Rewrite the Illinois Criminal Code; a member of The Board of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield; a faculty member of Stetson University College of Law, St. Petersburg, Florida; a certified Adjunct Professor, Florida County, Circuit and Family Mediator; Certified Mediator U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida and U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. He was also a Florida Bar Association Arbitrator and Mediator; a certified Mediator and Arbitrator 12th Circuit in Florida and 15th Circuit in Illinois. He was a Manatee County Florida Administration Hearing Officer and Arbitrator for New York and Nasdaq Stock Exchanges.

The Roe family has lived in Ogle County since 1837, his great-grandfather, John B. Roe was the first Doctor of Ogle County.

Jack is survived by his wife, Phyllis, of 47 years, companion, love, best friend, care taker; son John B. “Ben” Roe IV (Irene) Roe, of Grand Detour; step-daughter, Julie (Jim) Watt, of Oregon; grandchildren, John Benjamin Roe V and Mary Margaret Roe, of Grand Detour, Justin Watt and Emma Watt of Chicago; sister, Ruth Roe Arth, of San Francisco, California; and many nieces and nephews and extended family members.

Preceded in death by his mother, Jane Gilbert Roe; and his father, John B. Roe II.

A private family burial will be held at Lighthouse Church Cemetery in Ogle County.

Unger Horner Funeral Home and Cremation services assisted family with arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, it was Jack’s wish that any memorial tributes be made in the form of charitable donations to: Foundation for Focus House and Community Programming, P.O. Box 491, Rochelle, IL 61068;

An online guest book is available at