Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka dies at age 70

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Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has passed away at the age of 70, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Topinka passed away early Wednesday morning from complications related to a stroke she suffered less than 24 hours before, a spokesman said in a statement.

Topinka was taken to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn Tuesday morning after feeling discomfort. She was undergoing testing and observation when she lost consciousness early Wednesday morning. Efforts to revive her were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead shortly after 2 a.m., according to the statement.

Topinka, who has served as the state's comptroller since 2011, was the first woman to be elected Illinois State Treasurer, a post she held from 1994 to 2007.

Topinka was an unapologetic straight-shooter, force of nature and leader of the republican party.  She was known for crossing party lines to get the job done.

Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza told WGN, "Judy cared about people.  Anyone who knew her felt she was their aunt.  I like to describe her as quirky and fun-loving and totally completely awesome."

Former Governor Jim Thompson shared his favorite story of campaigning with Judy.  She made him climb down into a sewer to convince him the city of Berwyn needed more money for repairs.

RELATED: Illinois remembers Judy Baar Topinka

Illinois Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner issued the following statement following Topinka's death:

“Early this morning, Illinois lost one of its all-time greats. Comptroller Topinka’s magnetic, one-of-a-kind personality brought a smile to everyone she met, and she had a servant’s heart, always only caring about what was best for the people of our state. Judy was a tremendous friend, and Diana and I will miss her deeply. We offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to her family, including son Joseph, as well as her talented and loyal team in the Comptroller’s office.”

Governor Pat Quinn also issued the following statement:

"Today is a sad day in the state of Illinois. I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of my friend, Judy Baar Topinka. As the first female Treasurer of Illinois and a longtime public servant, Judy was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. Never without her signature sense of humor, Judy was a force of nature. She left her mark on the state she has called home her entire life. Her leadership improved Illinois and paved the way for countless women in politics. My deepest sympathies go out to Judy's son, Joe, daughter-in-law Christina, granddaughter Alexandra, her family, friends and devoted staff. Today the entire state mourns the loss of one of the greats. Judy Baar Topinka will be incredibly missed."

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk released the following statement:

“My friend and mentor's sudden passing is a shock and very saddening. Her death is a loss to all who knew her and to our great state. My prayers are with her family today, especially her beloved son Joseph.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued the following statement:

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Judy had a passion for serving the people of Illinois that equaled her passion for life. For more than three decades, she brought a relentless work ethic, a determination to attack our state’s fiscal challenges, and a sense of humor and smile that brightened the day of anyone in her path. As the first woman to serve as Illinois Treasurer, she will always have a special place in the history of our state. The thoughts and prayers of the City of Chicago are with Judy’s son Joseph and her staff members, and her many friends during this difficult time.”

 

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16 comments

  • Toivo

    I’m amazed at how the CHICAGO Tribune seems to be ignoring this story. Here it is, 3 hours after her death and there is no mention of her hospitalization a day ago, much her death hours ago. It’s a new age in journalism; someone should tell the Tribune that…or at least go over to the tower and wake someone up.

      • Toivo

        That doesn’t explain the Sun Times, Daily Herald, Belleville Daily News…all with reports of her death, but nothing at the Tribune’ s site. I guess the trains from the north suburbs don’t start running until 5am, getting in around 5:30, the there’s the stroll to work, with a stop for coffee…ahh, good old days of journalism still going strong at the Trib.

  • lesann100

    Completely shocked…such a vivacious personality, truly loved Chicago and Illinois. Illinois would be in a much better place had she won the election over Blago…..she saw it all coming….sincere sympathy to her family and for Illinois. Rest in peace!

  • Larry

    I recall back in the early 1990’s I was working for I.D.O.T, we were patching the ramp from L.S.D. to Southwest Bound Stevenson. A lady in a Black Cadillac Coupe Deville had her widow down and yelled out to me “What are you guy’s doing”? I replied lady why are you telling us how to do our jobs? A co-worker told me afterwards that the woman was Judy Barr Topinka. She was a great lady full of energy, she will be greatly missed!! 1st Jane Byrne, now Judy Barr Topinka, Rest in Peace Judy, you are now in a better place!

  • NWO

    Any news story they can find to keep the low information sheople in the fog. Please, we already went through this with Jane Byrne, not another week of teddy bears and balloons.

  • Tim

    Got a cold call years ago when Bill was running for Pres.. from this POS. She called him everything but a white man. A real class act you idiots say? Get a life.

    • Diane.

      Sorry Tim but you got it all wrong. This is one of the few Illinois politicians I admired

      .After I had spoken with Judy a few times, I thought, this is the kind of woman you want in the gang when it’s the girls night out. I would have have liked her as my governor, or my sister in-law, or my neighbor , or would have enjoyed her company as an old collage roommate, the stories I would have. She was a great ol gal.

      God bless you Judy and thank you for your time, efforts , and service to Illinois.

  • MrKrabs

    I always liked her. She did not mince words. She was her own person. If she had won against Blago, it would have been a very different era from the one we got. In some ways, she reminded me of Judge Judith Sheindlin. We’ve lost a good one.

  • Bella Interiore CEO Cynthia

    Very sad news indeed for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. My deepest condolences go out to her family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues at this time. May she Rest In Peace.

  • Steven Stallone

    Another Chicago politician deceased. Maybe she should have quit smoking cigarettes, she would have lived another 10 years. How will we ever survive ? Maybe we should give free cigarettes to all the Chicago Politicians. That is a great idea. Then the State will save money on the pensions.