Officials React to Topinka's Death

Officials reacted to Judy Baar Topinka's death by releasing the following statements.

President Barack Obama

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“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:

"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.”

Governor-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.”

Sen. Dick Durbin:

“The Illinois political scene lost its Polka Queen last night and I lost a friend. Judy Baar Topinka was one of a kind. 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.”

Sen. Mark Kirk:

“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.”

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon:

“I am deeply saddened to hear of Judy Baar Topinka’s passing. People throughout Illinois will remember her for her many years of dedication to public service just as much as they will remember her for her larger than life personality. She truly loved the people of this state. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and staff as we mourn the loss of a legend in Illinois government.”

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.”

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."

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno:

"Judy Baar Topinka was one of the first politicians I ever became aware of - she was my state Senator before I came into politics. She  was beautiful, funny and an independent thinker. I was always in awe of her. She had the qualities we admire in our friends and public officials. She was articulate, sincere and had a wonderful sense of humor. She was smart, practical, tolerant and honest. She wasn't afraid to take strong positions and stand to defend them. Judy will long be remembered by the people of Illinois. My family and I extend our condolences to her family and many friends."

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."

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."

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.”

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."

Congressman Randy Hultgren:

“Judy Baar Topinka was a towering figure in Illinois politics during her many years of service, and I was always impressed by her ability to build relationships across the aisle and get the job done. She leaves a lasting legacy of positive change in Illinois,” said Rep. Hultgren. “She helped lead our state through tumultuous times and her leadership will be greatly missed. Christy and I express our deepest sympathies to her son, Joe, her family and her many friends throughout Illinois.”

Congressman Peter Roskam:

“I am saddened by the passing of my friend and colleague Judy Baar Topinka. Judy was a tenacious and dynamic leader who dedicated her life to public service and the people of Illinois. She was a trailblazer, a fighter and a total sparkplug.  She will be dearly missed and Elizabeth and I join her family and many friends in mourning her passing."

Congressman Mike Quigley:

“Illinois has lost one of its most colorful and dedicated elected leaders. Judy Baar Topinka left everyone she met laughing, her signature sense of humor preceding her. I look back on the times I shared with her, like reading books to children at a Lakeview library and walking together in the Chicago Pride Parade, with fondness and will treasure those memories for a lifetime. Her inclusivity and devotion to her community is inspirational, for she was a force of nature and left her mark on the state she called home her entire life. Her dedication to Illinois' LGBT community, bipartisan efforts and overall leadership for Illinois will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with her son, Joseph, and her many friends.”

Congressman Adam Kinzinger: 

“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.”

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