DUBUQUE — A former Dubuque cafe owner who was granted the nation's first riverboat gambling license has died.
Bob Kehl, 78, died at home Wednesday morning shortly after being released from a local hospital. Family members said Kehl's health had been failing for an extended period.
Kehl and his wife, Ruth, were restaurateurs and caterers who began operating riverboats in 1973. They made headlines in 1990 when they were granted the country's first riverboat gambling license. They launched the Casino Belle, a 2,000-passenger boat from the port of Dubuque, a year later.
Kehl was also the founder and president of Kehl Riverboats, which built and renovated 13 floating casinos, including Clinton's Mississippi Belle II, and a founding board member of Iowa's first land-based casino, the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.
To many in Dubuque, Kehl was seen as a visionary who viewed the Mississippi River as the centerpiece of Dubuque's economic revival.
The Egelhof, Siegert and Casper Westview funeral home said a visitation for Kehl will be held Friday at the Kehl Center at Clarke University. Funeral director Tom Siegert said a service will be held for Kehl on Saturday at the St. Columbkille Church in Dubuque.
See page 4A of today's Clinton Herald for his complete obituary.