Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka died early Wednesday after having a stroke a day earlier. She was 70 years old.
Reaction from elected officials and Illinois citizens:
President Barack Obama: "Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Judy was an institution in Illinois politics. Her public service spanned more than 30 years, including her tenure in the State Legislature and as Chair of the Illinois Republican Party. Judy was a fierce advocate for her constituents, which I got to see firsthand when she was State Treasurer – the first woman to hold that office. She was blunt, pragmatic, unfailingly cheerful and energetic, and always willing to put politics aside to find commonsense solutions that made a difference for the people of Illinois. She will be greatly missed. Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Judy’s family, friends and constituents today."
Gov. Pat Quinn, via Twitter: "Today is a sad day in the state of Illinois. I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of my friend, Judy Baar Topinka.
Judy Baar Topinka was a trailblazer in every sense of the word. Her leadership improved Illinois & paved the way for women in politics.
Never without her signature sense of humor, Judy was a force of nature. Today the entire state mourns the loss of one of the greats."
Gov-Elect Bruce Rauner: "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."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "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."
Ill. Sen. Dick Durbin: "The Illinois political scene lost its Polka Queen last night and I lost a friend. Judy Barr Topinka was one of a kind,” said Durbin. “In a political world of cocker spaniels she could be a bulldog taking a bite out of both Democrats and right-wing Republicans without missing a beat. She was a blue-collar, immigrants’ kid who lit up the room with her quick wit and boundless energy."
Ill. Sen. Mark Kirk: "The sudden passing of my friend and mentor Judy Baar Topinka is a shock. Her death is a loss to all who knew her and to our great state."
Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan: "Today our state has suffered a great loss. Judy Baar Topinka was a trailblazer, a true public servant and a friend to all. Always jubilant and straight-talking, Judy spoke her mind on every issue. Even during tough political times, Judy always worked across party lines to get things done and brought humor and joy to everything she did. My thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Ill. House Speaker Michael Madigan: "Judy Baar Topinka brought a special approach to every aspect of life. Illinois is a much better place because of her efforts. Shirley and I offer our prayers that her family is comforted during these sad times."
Secretary of State Jesse White: "I’m shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing this morning of my friend Judy Baar Topinka. Judy committed her professional life to public service. She served the citizens of Illinois honorably and with distinction for decades beginning in the Illinois General Assembly, as the Illinois Treasurer and most recently in her capacity as State Comptroller.
She was a great leader and a straight shooter who served Illinois with dignity. This is a sad day for Illinois and for me personally. She will be dearly missed."
Ill. Treasurer Dan Rutherford: "I am saddened to hear about the sudden passing of my friend State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. She was a trailblazer for women in public service in Illinois, and in general. My heart and prayers are with the Comptroller’s family and staff at this time."
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-08): ""I express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and staff of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. For more than thirty years Judy honorably served our state as a State Representative, Senator, Treasurer and Comptroller. Judy’s courage and leadership helped pave the way for women in Illinois to serve in office. We honor her commitment to public service and our state."
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-05): "RIP Judy Baar Topinka. You will be truly missed. Thank you for your dedication & service to #IL"
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-14): "Judy Baar Topinka's leadership will be greatly missed in Illinois. She leaves a lasting legacy for good."
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-06): "Saddened by the passing of Judy Baar Topinka--a tenacious & dynamic leader who dedicated her life to public service & the ppl of Illinois"
U.S. Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-16th): "Judy was an amazing public servant and friend - she will be deeply missed. In a business where political expediency is the norm, Judy always stuck to her guns and did what she thought was right. She was a great example to so many people for so many years, and Illinois simply won’t be the same without her."
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-11th): "Saddened to hear of the loss of Judy Baar Topinka. My thoughts go out to her family and loved ones."
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd): "I am deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Judy Baar Topinka."
Ill. Rep. Tom Cross (R-Lockport): "She was a unique individual. She cared ... about Illinois and about doing the right thing. Money didn't drive her. She always enjoyed the intrigue of politics but she just was a good, true public servant. We loved her because she was also so refreshingly honest, and in this day and age of political spin, you always knew you were going to get it straight. It wasn't going to be sugar-coated, and you just -- I think we all liked that about Judy. I know we did."
Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson: "She was, without question, the most colorful politician that I've ever encountered in Illinois. First of all, she was a great politician. The voters put their trust in her many times, and she rewarded them with running a great office. It'd be hard to find somebody in the history of Illinois politics who ran a better office. She was a very colorful person. She spoke plainly, bluntly. She had one style with everybody, from presidents down to voters she met on the street."
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle: "I was saddened to hear this morning of the passing of Judy Baar Topinka. Judy was truly one of a kind. I admired her feisty, outspoken nature and her passion for good government. She had a track record of standing up for what she believed in, regardless of party lines. As the first woman to be elected treasurer in Illinois, she was also a pioneer and an inspiration for other women in public service. My heart goes out to her family and friends throughout the state."
Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown: "I am heartbroken to have learned that Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka died this morning.
She was an exceptional person, a caring and hardworking public servant, a diligent advocate for quality education for all, a role model to me, and a great friend of mine.
She was a fearless and outspoken woman who carved out an impressive career in Illinois government and politics that spanned 34 years. But it was her palpable compassion for people that defined her public service. As the first women to serve as our state treasurer, during her 13-year tenure, Judy put many innovative programs in place that truly helped people. Specifically, her ?Bridges? program taught elementary school children about money and banking, while her Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) enabled many bright young people to attend college.
My thoughts and prayers are with Judy's family at this time. We have lost a great woman who truly made a difference in our lives. I will miss her dearly."
Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery: "Judy Baar Topinka was one in a million. She was an undeterred pioneer, a friend to working families, and an advocate for all Illinoisans. Judy believed and showed that doing what’s right has no political party. She was guided instead by her principles and when she came before our Executive Board earlier this year, we laughed together as Judy told stories in her own candid, inimitable way. She loved serving the public and did so with honor, grit, and integrity. We join so many others this morning in shock and grief, and extend our sincere condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. Judy will be deeply missed."