SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Attendees at a funeral service for an Illinois appellate judge who died unexpectedly at age 52 weeks into his new job praised him for his kindness and intelligence.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that later Thursday the funeral procession for John Schmidt passed the Sangamon County Complex, where Schmidt worked as state’s attorney and a circuit judge.

Schmidt died Dec. 19 of cardiovascular-related causes shortly after he took up his 4th District Appellate Court seat.

At the service, U.S. Attorney John Childress said those who knew Schmidt should be “joined in gratitude” for someone who brought them such joy. Fellow Judge John Belz added that Schmidt was “one of the best trial lawyers in the history of Sangamon County.”

He is survived by his wife, Robin, and a 14-year-old son.

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