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Quote of the week

Thursday, Jan 17, 2013

* Dawn Clark Netsch on her thoughts when she was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease

“And my first reaction was I’m not even a Yankees fan. I’m a White Sox fan,” she said.

She’s one tough woman.

* I have to admit having a bad taste in my mouth for Ms. Netsch for many a year, culminating with her opposition to a state constitutional convention. But then I saw her at the Carlos Hernandez Gomez funeral, sitting alone in a pew. She didn’t work the crowd, or look around to see who was looking at her. Just respectful, dignified silence for our mutual friend. The years of animosity immediately melted away, at least for me. On my way out of the church I leaned down and gave her a hug.

Dawn Clark Netsch has had an enormous impact on Illinois, from her participation in the drafting of our Constitution, to her insistence that the courts badly misinterpreted the Constitution’s “preponderance” of education funding language, to her many years of conscientious legislative and statewide service, to her 1994 education funding plan that was eventually adopted by her opponent Jim Edgar.

She is a founding mother of the modern state. And we all owe her a debt of gratitude.

* More

ALS robs a person of some of life’s most basic functions and normally can be deadly in three to five years. ALS weakens the nerves and makes it difficult to walk, swallow and speak.

“It’s a tough one,” she said sitting in the kitchen of the near north side home she shared with her late husband, famed architect Walter Netsch.

Asked why it was important to speak of her disease, Netsch did not hesitate.

“Might get more people thinking about what is ALS,’ she said, noting, “I’m going to be straight about this also.”

Let’s all hope for the best.

And it should go without saying that disrespectful comments will be deleted. I don’t care what your politics are, you can be a human being.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


45 Comments
  1. - Irish - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 12:45 pm:

    That is truly sad news. I hope only the best for her. She will be in my thoughts and prayers as she faces this. I didn’t always agree with her but you always knew where she stood on any issue. She can always be counted on to give good information when questions on the Constitution arise.


  2. - Boone Logan Square - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 12:48 pm:

    Sorry to learn this news. Glad to see her keep her humor with the Sox quip. Hope we have her around (and in the best possible shape) a while longer.


  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 12:54 pm:

    It was always odd to see one of the last of the old Northside goo-goo liberals hanging out at Sox games, tipping a beer, among all those Bridgeport payrollers.

    But there haven’t been many games over the years where I haven’t spotted her, and Walter, while he was alive.

    (In recent years, their seats were in the back wheelchair row, for Walter, in the lower concourse behind home plate; that’s one of my favorite areas to get out of the sun, grab a cold one on tap and still catch the action).

    Best of luck. Great to see the sense of humor about ALS and the Yankees (did you ever consider what a coincidence it was that Lou Gehrig got Lou Gehrig’s disease)?


  4. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to her. I had a cousin thats life was cut short by ALS. Not a good thing…..DCN was the first person to talk about the growing problems associated with delay of pension payments when she ran for Governor. The state should have listened. God Bless her in her batte.


  5. - Crime Fighter - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Very sad news. I too am hoping for the best for this exceptional public servant and person of integrity.


  6. - Mr. Grassroots - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:05 pm:

    Interesting, I also had a cousin (through marriage) that passed away recently from the effects of ALS. You ask yourself the question of why? Why him? And in Dawn Clark Netsch’s case, why her? I will keep her in my prayers.


  7. - Anonymoose - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:05 pm:

    Disagree with her politics? You bet. But what a vivacious, and intelligent woman. Possibly one of THE best dressed women - ever. There are times she would walk down the aisle in the Senate and her dress, mannerisms, along with her charisma, it was like the excitement of flowers blooming in Spring. God bless and best wishes to Dawn Clark Netsch.


  8. - 10th Indy - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    She got my first vote after moving here from NY. As a Mets fan this should qualify as one more reason to hate the yankees. Wishing her all the best.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:13 pm:

    I want to wish her all the best as Ms. Netsch continues the fight. ALS will find it is taking on one tough hombre’, and she will fight with all the toughness, and all the grace and humor, that Dawn Clark Netsch is know for.

    That Yankee line is a good indication what this disease is up against.

    You will be in my, and a great many others, prayers.


  10. - Jim Merriner - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    My mother died of ALS in 1989 and since then I have found much support from the Les Turner ALS Foundation, based in Skokie, and have tried to support them too. Rich, I hope it is not inappropriate in your comments to suggest donations to a charity. Also, I hope this is not a frivolous memory considering the direness of Ms. Netsch’s condition, but I will never forget her pool-shooting ad in the 1990 gubernatorial campaign.


  11. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:24 pm:

    This is an old fashioned term, but totally appropriate here.

    A great lady.

    Best wishes for her and her family.


  12. - Archimedes - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:27 pm:

    She is an intelligent and thoughtful woman. I always thought she spoke and voted her values pretty straight up.


  13. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    The State will have to eventually enact some kind of funding plan very similar to hers. She’ll then be known as being 50 years ahead of her time.


  14. - And I Approved This Message - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    Dawn has always been one of the good guys - whip smart, hard working, a proven problem solver, a proud liberal Democrat who was always willing to work across the aisle. She was in public service for all the right reasons. Anonymoose, the only thing missing from your description was the cigarette holder. She is one of a kind.


  15. - Jak Tichenor - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    Very sorry to hear this. Dawn Clark Netsch has always been one of my favorite people to interview. Anytime spent talking with her is like sitting in on a post-graduate seminar from one of the true originals in Illinois reform politics. And yes, she really did make those pool shots in the “Straight-Shooter” commercial. She told me she learned the game as a teenager who helped run a youth center. Hang in there, Dawn, we’re all pulling for you!


  16. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:49 pm:

    This is really sad news.
    She was one of the first women in Illinois to go up against so many, and make an impact.


  17. - Anonymour - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:50 pm:

    So sad. She put the goo in goo-goo. One of our finest public servants.

    I miss the days when more independent, principled, legislators worked in Springfield and were willing to take the lead on issues. In particular, justice in Cook County would be a much, much better place if the the Netsch-Kustra merit selection proposal had passed.

    Sen. Netsch was also a national leader and former chair of the board of the American Judicature Society.

    And a genuine Sox fan.


  18. - Hon. John Fritchey - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:54 pm:

    Dawn is a rare personage in politics, who can equally measure up to, and appreciate, being called both a principled eloquent statesman and a classy broad. She is also equal parts ideologue and shrewd politician, hence the reason for the wide respect she receives and deserves. I wish her the absolute best.


  19. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    Here’s to hoping for a 3 bank shot into the corner pocket. Best wishes to Sen Netsch.


  20. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    –I miss the days when more independent, principled, legislators worked in Springfield and were willing to take the lead on issues.–

    Wasn’t she one of the Crazy 8? Four Dems, four Republicans in the Senate from all around the state who banded together to break the stranglehold of partisan leadership on the agenda?

    Seems to me Vince Demuzio and Don Wooten from Rock Island were part of that crew, too, but the memory is hazy.


  21. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Dawn. She is a true credit to public service.


  22. - Anonymour - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 2:00 pm:

    http://www.lib.niu.edu/1977/ii770810.html


  23. - LincolnLounger - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    I always think of the capes and cigarettes in a holder. She cut quite a flair.

    Best wishes to an Illinoisan who contributed much.


  24. - Langhorne - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 2:13 pm:

    I met her in the mid 70s, when I was a junior nobody. She was always very gracious. You could tell she was coming, from the clanging of her jewelry.


  25. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 2:21 pm:

    She’s a lovely person and someone we all should have listened to more often.


  26. - Jak Tichenor - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 2:26 pm:

    “Wasn’t she one of the Crazy 8?”
    Yep, she was one of the Crazy Eight and very proud of it. They gave the pols fits back in the day.


  27. - Because I said so... - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    A true trail blazer. She is and always will be a wonderful role model for women in government. Wishing Dawn all the best.


  28. - Tough Guy - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    I had the privilege to work for DCN when she was Comptroller. She has a brilliant mind for state finances, a keen eye for a pool shot, could drink beer and talk baseball with the “boys”. She also had political will that is so lacking today. A class act all the way.


  29. - Anyone Remember? - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 3:02 pm:

    Never met The Lady, hoping all the best for her. She truly is one of the founders of the modern Illinois.

    Before the “Pension Ramp-up,” Public Act 88-0593, Ms. Netsch worked to enact Public Act 86-273, which was an attempt to address the unfunded pension liability. Always looking to the future.

    http://www.lib.niu.edu/1993/im930215.html
    http://www.lib.niu.edu/1993/ii930717.html


  30. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    She’s a lion of Illinois politics and law. An original constitutional convention delegate and a classy state legislator. Even Sen. Richard M. Daley knew enough to befriend her in Springfield and hope she’d help him through the finer points of legislating (she did).

    You have a tremendous number of friends Dawn, and all of us are pulling for you.


  31. - Stones - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    I remember Dawn Netch when she was in the State Senate. Wordslinger is correct that she was a member of the Crazy 8 that became a powerful faction at the time.

    Back in the day (I used to be a Page) she ordered chicken bouillon soup everyday. Always a generous tipper too. I am sorry to hear about her health issues. A genuinely nice person.


  32. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    Wishing DCN the best. She has been a real leader in Illinois politics.

    Almost forgot about the “Crazy 8″. I did one of my first legislative stories about them since Ken Buzbee was a guy I covered.


  33. - Jake From Elwood - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 3:24 pm:

    Sending good feelings and thoughts your way.


  34. - Amalia - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    Dawn Clark Netsch is 12,000 levels of awesome. From her love of the Sox (what a quote!) to her love of opera, from her strong, bold non feminist kind of feminism to her deep devoted, almost traditional love for the irascible brilliant Walter, Dawn remains one of the most interesting people in political, heck any walk of life I’ve ever encountered.

    Dawn has forgotten more about fiscal policy than almost any pol will ever know in their entire lives. Her deeply detailed knowledge is an important source for many people who still work in policy in Illinois. Dawn’s Crazy 8 days brought much more to the world of politics than can be accurately calculated.
    That is great testimony to her ability to bridge the cultural gap from the MCA crowd to the bars, and pols, of the South Side.

    I’m thankful that she has the courage to tell us about her diagnosis so we can all tell her what she has meant to us, the people of Illinois, and the people who know her personally and love her deeply.


  35. - mokenavince - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    Dawn Clark Netsch was by far the smartest woman I have ever met.They build very few like her now adays.She could have easly been the 1st woman President. May the Lord bless her.


  36. - proudstatetrooper - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    drove Miss Daisy. class act and the best of the best. she put up with a lot from my guys and gave it back even more.


  37. - Meanderthal - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 4:26 pm:

    A class act. Someone who you could disagree with but not be disagreeable with. Many of the Dem women in the General Assembly would do well to adopt DCN’s independent philosophy.


  38. - proudstatetrooper - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    oh yea. we did drink beer out of the bottle and smoke a couple of smokes while waiting for a table at the Anchor Tap.


  39. - Norseman - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 4:49 pm:

    My wife and I are sorry to hear this. She treated us with kindness even though we were polar opposites politically. Senator Netsch, we’re thinking and praying for you.


  40. - Rep. Ann M. Williams - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 4:59 pm:

    I had the honor of Sen. Netsch’s endorsement and support during my first race; she offered me advice and shared some great stories of what it was like to be a woman running for office in a very different time. “Mrs. Netsch”, as she was called on the campaign trail back in the day, was a true groundbreaker and paved the way for many of us to follow. I wish her the best as she faces this challenge.


  41. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 5:30 pm:

    All the best to a great woman and an Illinoisan we can all be proud of. I hope she battles it well into “extra innings,” and maybe with the help of a cure, or hopefully getting closer to one, can emerge victorious somehow over this feisty, aggressive opponent. No matter what, thank you, Senator, for your many years of passionate service dedicated to the betterment of all here in the Land of Lincoln!!! I always looked up to and admired you. May God bless you in the months ahead and always…


  42. - anon sequitor - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 5:30 pm:

    We shouldn’t be writing her epitaph just yet. If I know Dawn, and I do, she’s not ready to put down her scorecard.

    The last time I attended a White Sox game with her, she handed me her scorecard and her pencil, then said don’t miss anything while she went to the restroom. I made sure I recorded everything while she was gone.

    Time for a visit to Twin Anchors.


  43. - Little Giant - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 6:38 pm:

    The more I read about this Lady the more I regret the fact that the opportunity to meet her never arose. She sounds like a lot of wonderful traits combined. Many prayers will be said on her behalf. Without being disrespectful it appears that we could use more leaders of he caliber.


  44. - Langhorne - Thursday, Jan 17, 13 @ 7:32 pm:

    What fritchey said

    Part of her class as an individual, is that when she talked to you, she looked you in the eye, not over your shoulder looking for someone more important (ala J3)


  45. - Loyal Public Servant - Friday, Jan 18, 13 @ 2:31 am:

    Truly a sad day. This disease is horrible, I watched my Aunt Katherine die just two years after her retirement. I hope someday we find a cure.


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