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2004: Bill Brestal

He wanted to be a coach… a football coach.  But, like many other intelligent young men in their twenties, he took the advice of his soon-to-be-wife Joan and became a lawyer.  Thank goodness and thank Joan that he did, because Naperville could be a very different place today if not for an attorney named Bill Brestal.

Bill Brestal was born and raised in Belleville, Illinois.  He attended the University of Illinois and was married his senior year.  At the advice of another smart cookie — his dean at U of I — Bill attended Loyola university law school at night and taught school in Villa Park during the day.  Four years later, the lawyer, formerly known as teacher, emerged on the Naperville scene.

In 1967, Bill was asked to join the well-established Naperville law firm of Nadelhoffer, Hennessy & Dommermuth.  Six months later, Brestal was added to the nameplate and today, Dommermuth, Brestal, Cobine & West is the oldest law firm in DuPage county.

In the early days with the firm, Bill planned to focus on family law, but circumstances demanded that he take on a different sort of case … in other words, Bill was the only one available.  So off he went, somewhat unprepared, to handle his first Naperville zoning case, and —  in his words —  he ended up looking like a jerk.

Needless to say, that never happened again.  After that day, Bill Brestal read, researched and became Naperville’s number-one zoning and real estate attorney, representing developers and land owners in rezoning, annexation and other matters of real estate.

Out of the hundreds of cases that he has worked, Bill’s favorite case is not the high profile, front page news that we have come to expect.  It was about a little old lady who needed a variance in “goose pimple heights.”  — to long-timers that’s the northwest section of Naperville, east of Mill Street — she had no money for an attorney and tried to handle it alone, so Bill came to her rescue.  Well, she received the variance and called Bill her dragonslayer, sending him a statue of a wizard (that would be Bill) and a dragon (that would be the city —  let me just add that opinions expressed by said little old lady do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.)

Tougher cases, such as Green Trails Subdivision or White Eagle Subdivision, taught Bill that intelligent negotiation and a sincere desire to “do right by Naperville” have always been the keys to success for himself and his firm.

In that spirit, Bill and his firm have placed community service and family at the core of their culture.  Bill alone has chaired, founded and participated on dozens of boards, committees and foundations. And among other things, like golf, hunting and fishing, Bill Brestal has become very, very good at asking for money for good causes.

On that note, I have good news and bad news about Mr. Brestal this afternoon.  The bad news is that, while he says he will never retire, Bill will be practicing a little less law in the coming years. But the good news is that he will also be asking for a little less money.

So again, thanks to Joan Brestal for encouraging Bill to become an attorney.  For 37 years, Naperville has been proud to have Bill as a dedicated partner and friend.  Congratulations to Bill Brestal on a lifetime of service and achievement.

Congratulations to Bill Brestal on a lifetime of service and dedication…  long may it continue.