The Wadena Rock Festival

From Courtrooms to Cornfields

About the Authors

Daniel P. Ernst was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Dubuque where he attended Dubuque Senior High School. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1953 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1956.

From 1957 to 1960, Dan served in the Judge Advocate General Corps with the 92nd Combat Support Group (SAC) of the United States Air-Force. He also served in the Coast Guard Auxiliary from 1998 – 2013.

Following his discharge from the military in 1960, Dan practiced law with Klauer, Stapleton, Ernst and Sprengelmeyer in Dubuque, Iowa, and Ernst and Sprengelmeyer in East Dubuque, Illinois. In 1991, he set up a public defender program serving Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, and Dubuque Counties in Iowa. Dan is admitted to the bar in Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan.

In May 2006, Iowa Governor Vilsack appointed Dan to the Iowa Commission on Elder Affairs and Aging. He was reappointed in 2009.

Dan has received many awards over the years including the Governor’s Volunteer Award in September 2001. He donated his entire collection of Wadena files to the Iowa Historical Society in 2011.

Dan is married to Ann and has three children and eight grandchildren.

Victor V. Sprengelmeyer was born in Dubuque, Iowa, on December 25, 1942, attended Loras Academy, Wahlert High School, and Loras College before graduating from the University of Iowa, College of Law.

He joined the Dubuque law firm of Gilloon, Klauer, Stapleton, and Ernst following law school, eventually becoming a partner. He later opened a law office with his brother-in-law, Francis Henkels.

Victor served as a state’s attorney and public defender for Jo Daviess County, Illinois, and helped found the public defender’s office for Dubuque (Iowa) County. He retired as a Circuit Court Judge in 2006, after nearly 20 years on the bench.

Victor died on November 17, 2012, at the age of 69, leaving behind his wife Mary Beth, a son, a daughter, and five grandchildren.

Constance R. Cherba is a free-lance writer from Dubuque, Iowa. She is the Dubuque Contributing Editor for Big River Magazine and also writes for several national and international history and genealogy publications.

She and her husband enjoy advocational archeology, canoeing on the Mississippi River, and traveling to Texas and California to visit their two daughters and their families.


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