chicago politics

Former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson Laid to Rest in Private Funeral Due to Coronavirus

Thompson passed away Friday night at the age of 84

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Former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson was laid to rest Wednesday in a small and private family funeral due to coronavirus restrictions, a source confirmed to NBC 5.

Thompson passed away Friday night at the age of 84. A funeral was held at the St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago Wednesday afternoon.

"The Thompson family is mourning the loss of a wonderful husband, father and grandfather," a statement from the family read. "Jim Thompson’s love and devotion to his family mirrored his lifelong dedication to his beloved State of Illinois. His guiding principle in public and private life was to help people and do what he could so they could have an opportunity to succeed. In that process, he achieved big things for Illinois that matched the life he lived."

Thompson, a Republican, served as governor for 14 years from 1976 to 1991. Prior to being elected, he was appointed by President Nixon as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Before then, he worked in the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Due to restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson's family said they were unable to hold a public wake "that would accommodate all those who would want to express their condolences and respect for the Governor and his life."

The family said a memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

"Big Jim walked the walk on bringing people of all political stripes together to make life better for the people of this state," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday, adding that he spoke to Thompson's family earlier that day and offered his condolences. "He lived a big life and he got big things done, important things done for the people of Illinois. But perhaps most importantly, he was a kind and decent man who set the standard for what public service can and should look like in our state."

Pritzker held a moment of silence during his Wednesday coronavirus briefing to honor Thompson "and to let his wife Jane and his family and the many friends and colleagues of his know that all who know him will mourn his loss."

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