IN MEMORIAM: Beloved teacher and Labor leader Joe Eble


Joe Eble, a teacher and much-admired Labor leader in southwestern Illinois, died Oct. 26, 2021 in Swansea, Ill. He was 75.

Brother Eble taught English, German and social studies at Cahokia High School for 33 years starting in 1968, becoming vice president and then president of the Cahokia Federation of Teachers (IFT Local 1272). He also served on the executive board of the Illinois Federation of Teachers for 10 years and was treasurer of the Southwest Area Council of Teachers.

His work for Labor continued after he retired as he spent 20 years as executive recording secretary of the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council, also serving as treasurer of the 12th Congressional District AFL-CIO COPE from 1982 to 2019. In 1999, the Labor Council honored him as its Labor Man of the Year.

“Joe was a strong union teacher, representing his union and its members with all of the heart and soul imaginable,” said Bill Thurston, retired president of the Labor Council. “He was a wonderful friend and union brother. Joe was the kind of guy you could always count on. He was always there when we needed him.”

Brother Eble was born on Jan. 29, 1946 in East St. Louis to Joseph and Theresa Eble. He grew up in Cahokia and attended Holy Family School, St. Catherine Laboure School and St. Henry’s Preparatory.

He attended St. Louis University, earning both a BA and MA in history. He also earned an administrative certificate from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He studied German language at Washington University in St. Louis and the Goethe Institute in Chicago, and participated in seminars at Konra Adenauer Stiftung in Berlin, and the Kulturministerium Rheinland Pfalz in Mainz.

As a teacher, students enjoyed his dry sense of humor.

One of his favorite expressions was, “There is no ME in UNION, but there are YOU and I.”

“Joe excelled at teaching,” a friend and fellow teacher, Rich Buxton, wrote on his memorial page. “His sense of humor was legendary and his connection to students was envious.”

Every year, Eble sold Advent calendars to help fund a student trip to Germany.

As a Labor leader, Buxton said, “One should not forget the tremendous contribution Joe made to the contractual benefits provided to teachers through his service to Cahokia Federation of Teachers, both locally and on the state level. He was a fierce advocate for teachers, working diligently over the years for their benefit.”

Brother Eble is survived by his wife, Jenny Eble; step-daughter, Kerry Angevine Dysart; and grandson Jhett.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be made to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis or Shriners  Hospital in St. Louis.


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