The Wisconsin Idea, in Wartime and in Peacetime Washington County

Connections in Washington County

Data Source: University of Wisconsin Service Center

Did you know that a Washington County war hero became a Wisconsin legal titan?

Born in Hartford, Wisconsin, in 1890, Edward Gehl became one of his hometown’s greatest citizens. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1913 and ran a private law practice until 1917. When the United States declared war on Germany, he enlisted in the army.

During the war, Gehl distinguished himself in battle and was promoted to the rank of captain. By the war’s end, he had earned the Purple Heart and Silver Star. During the years following the war, he remained a committed member of the military, serving in the National Guard and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Edward Gehl became one of his hometown’s greatest citizens.

While in the army, Gehl became friends with three men who would be elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court: Roland Steinle, John Martin, and Theodore Lewis. After 15 years in private practice and a distinguished career as a district court judge, Gehl himself was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1949.

The man who’d known the horrors of battle and personified courage showed himself to be a man of strength and principle on the bench. Colleagues spoke of Gehl with deep respect, citing his wisdom, steady demeanor, and willingness to take decisive action when the situation called for it. He was man who lived the Wisconsin Idea in both wartime and peacetime.