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Local News

Quinn, Rauner offer high praise at Judy Baar Topinka memorial

COUNTRYSIDE – Illinois leaders – past, present and future – gathered Wednesday morning with one common agenda: honoring the life and service of Riverside resident Judy Baar Topinka.

Sharing the podium were the likes of Gov. Pat Quinn, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner and former Gov. James Thompson.

"She was always known for telling the truth, a truth-teller," Quinn said.

They gathered at Local 150 in Countryside to offer praise and memories about Topinka, who died Dec. 10 at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn after suffering a stroke.

A month earlier, Topinka won election to her second term as Illinois comptroller. Speakers at Wednesday's memorial remembered her as an honest, hard-working leader, dedicated to the people of Illinois.

"Judy was all about working together and solving problems, and I loved her for it," Rauner said.

Topinka was a frequent guest for Roe Conn and the Chicago radio show he hosted for years.

"She was a total truth screamer. ... She warned us in 2006 about Rod Blagojevich. She was right," Conn said.

Thompson offered a call to action.

"If we really respected [Topinka] ... we could all take a vow to work just a little bit harder for the people of this state."

And, of course, Topinka was known for her sense of humor.

"Judy always liked to play to a full house, so she would have been delighted today," said Nancy Kimme, Topinka's chief of staff. "She found humor in almost everything."

Other speakers included Illinois Auditor General William Holland, Capitol Fax Publisher Rich Miller and Illinois Appellate Judge Joseph Birkett, who was Topinka's running mate in the 2006 gubernatorial election.

"She was not afraid to do the right thing even when she knew it might cost her votes," Birkett said.

Topinka's son, Joseph, was last to speak.

"I am trying to live up to what she would want me to do."

– Suburban Life editors Dave Lemery and David Good contributed to this report.

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More coverage

Return throughout the day for more coverage and photos from Wednesday's memorial and add to the conversation on our live Twitter feed.

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