John and Reta Dowling

This is the photograph of John and Reta Dowling which ran along with their 60th wedding anniversary announcement in the Daily Journal in 2015. The couple were well-known educators and community servants who advocated for Watseka and Iroquois County in numerous ways. Both perished in a traffic crash on Sunday.

WATSEKA — Former Iroquois County Board member John R. Dowling and his wife, Reta A. Dowling, died as a result of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle crash on the western edge of Watseka on Sunday.

John Dowling, the driver of a 2016 Chrysler Town and Country minivan, was pronounced dead at the scene. Reta Dowling was airlifted to Carle Hospital in Champaign, where she later died.

Both were 84.

An autopsy was scheduled today for John Dowling, Iroquois County Coroner Bill Cheatum said.

The man and woman in the other vehicle, a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado, were treated for nonlife-threatening injuries at Carle.

The head-on crash occurred at 2:14 p.m. on U.S. Route 24 at Oppyville Road.

According to Illinois State Police District 21, the Dowlings’ minivan was traveling eastbound on U.S. 24 near Oppyville Road as the Silverado was traveling westbound at the same location.

The preliminary investigation indicated the minivan crossed into the westbound lane and hit the truck head-on.

According to a 60th wedding anniversary announcement in the Daily Journal from March 2015, John Dowling served on the Iroquois County Board for 26 years and was the Middleport Township supervisor for 24 years. He also was a teacher for 34 years. He retired in 1989 from Watseka School District as an administrator.

According to a June 2004 article in the Daily Journal, Dowling, who taught history, helped coordinate a history of townships for a book during the county’s sesquicentennial in 1968. He wrote the introduction for the book, “The History of Iroquois County.”

Reta Dowling retired from public school teaching and later from co-owning and operating a private preschool. Along with her husband, Reta volunteered at Iroquois Memorial Hospital, where she was a member of the auxiliary.

“I just thought a lot of John,” Cheatum said. “He had a good heart and had the best interest of Watseka and the county. He was quite the guy.

“Reta was a sweetheart. They were caring people and they volunteered a lot.”

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