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Topinka memorial roundup

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* AP

Late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka was remembered Wednesday as a tough, honest leader with a signature sense of humor.

Crowds filled the Operating Engineers’ Local 150 headquarters in Countryside to pay respects. Individuals included the state’s top leaders, lawmakers, local leaders and Illinoisans who knew her for more than 70 years.

* Tribune

Rauner noted the irony of appearing in a union hall after a campaign in which he vilified public employee unions by saying Topinka was observing from heaven and “chuckling about me standing in the Local 150 union hall.”

“We’ve got to remember a good life always ends too early. A good life always ends too soon,” said Rauner, who added, “Judy was all about working together and solving problems, and I loved her for it.”

Auditor General William Holland called Topinka “an undeniable, smashing success” who earned the “approbation of honest citizens.”

“There are many important people here today. Then there are the important people who are not here today. They are those who shook Judy’s hand at the State Fair, heard her speak at an ethnic festival or walked with her in a parade,” Holland said. “I have no doubt that today, throughout Illinois in bungalows, farmhouses and town houses, these people whose names are unknown to us here are grieving, just as we are for the loss of their good friend Judy.”

* Sun-Times

“She was always known for telling the truth, a truth teller, and standing up for important issues no matter what her party might say. No matter the conventional wisdom of the day, Judy spoke from her heart,” Gov. Pat Quinn said during Topinka’s memorial at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 headquarters in the western suburb of Countryside.

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, former Gov. Jim Thompson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were among the political heavyweights who filled the union hall to capacity Wednesday. Topinka’s beloved Scottie dogs, Jack and Nora, also made an appearance.

“Judy led the ultimate life,” Rauner said. “She was a true public servant . . . She cared deeply for the families of Illinois. She worked her tail off to try to make a better life for all of us here.” […]

“We all feel a tremendous sense of loss because she filled every square inch of a room, every square inch of our hearts,” Kimme said. “She was hilarious. She was loyal to a fault sometimes, frustrating as all get out and simply the best person I’ve ever known. Rest well my friend. We love you.”

* Suburban Life Media

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.”

* Herald News

A serious and recurring theme throughout the ceremony was best said by former Gov. Jim Thompson, who spoke of Topinka’s ability to work with people of all walks of life, her commitment to making the state better for its residents and the necessity for all sides to work together to accomplish that goal.

Thompson called on those in attendance to find ways to compromise and work together to solve the lengthy list of issues before the state.

“So if we really respected our departed friend and really want to do something in her memory at this memorial, we could take a vow to work together … to move the people forward,” Thompson said. “Or, as Judy might say, ‘We got them here, lock the doors, order the pizzas, we’re gonna start now.’ ”

* ABC 7

Praise came from both sides of the aisle. Several Illinois lawmakers, including Governor Pat Quinn, former Governor James Thompson and Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner, spoke at the memorial, which was held at IUOE Local 150, located at 6200 Joliet Road in Countryside.

“She’s probably chuckling a little bit to see me standing, talking in local 150 hall,” Gov.-Elect Rauiner said.

“She didn’t care whether it was a Republican sponsored bill or a Democratic-sponsored bill. If it had value to the people, she was there,” Secretary of State Jesse White, democrat, said.

“Partisanship has no place for her. She’s really just a good government person who likes to work with the people,” Former Il. Comptroller Dan Hynes, democrat, said.

“All of us have lost that middle voice that’s really lacking in this country,” Jim Sweeney, Operating Engineers Local #150, said.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Topinka’s staff and family for asking me to speak yesterday.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Someone you should know - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    You did a superb job yesterday Rich, I was truly touched…….

  2. - Soccermom - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 9:48 am:

    What an incredible day. What a great tribute to a wonderful — and irreplaceable — woman.

  3. - ??? - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Rich, I was unable to catch the live feed in its entirety. Will you share your remarks with us? Or did you already share those with subscribers?

  4. - Casual Observer - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:00 am:

    When you mentioned it should be easy to appoint someone to write the checks, Rauner seemed to agree but Quinn appeared, um, perturbed. Did I read that right?

  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    === Did I read that right? ===

    He appeared to have a scowl on his face.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    What a wonderful memorial.

    From the speakers to the music, videos to the right mix of ceremony and personal touches, the program was well done and well executed.

    My heart goes out especially to Joesph and the Staff and I hope yesterday’s memorial helps in healing.

  7. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    I don’t remember where I saw it, but someone remarked last week that JBT was everyone’s favorite aunt.

    That’s exactly right. What a full life, to be beloved by so many, far and wide, high and low.

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:04 am:

  9. - Casual Observer - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:07 am:

    I don’t know Nancy Kimme but after yesterday it seems clear she is who JBT would want to replace her. Works for me.

  10. - Louis G Atsaves - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    Watched this late last night. Very touching and warm event. I commend Governor Thompson and I must say, his speech and comments were the best of all speakers present on the podium. He put everything into perspective as it related to Topinka.

    Auditor Holland’s remarks were also outstanding, and seemed to be unfairly overlooked by the various media accounts of this memorial service.

    I must also say Rich, your presentation was also outstanding. You followed some somber deep commentary with wit and humor that mirrored what the late Judy Baar Topinka was all about. Between you and Nancy Kimme, everyone had a chance to learn what she was really like. Thank you both for this.

    I recall a few years back shortly after Senator Geo-Karis’ funeral mentioning to her that my wife and I were thinking of adding another dog to our household. She actually called me out of the blue to see how I was doing following Geo’s passing, which astounds me even to this day. She then called me repeatedly over the next few days with leads on rescue dogs until we made our addition.

    That public memorial yesterday shows what a fine legacy she left behind. Tenacious and caring are two of the best qualities any politician can have.

  11. - PublicServant - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    ===He appeared to have a scowl on his face.===

    He’s a lame duck. I’m sure that wasn’t the only scowl, lol.

  12. - ??? - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Thanks for the link, Rich.

    Re: Quinn’s reaction to Rauner. I did catch part of Rauner’s remarks, and when the camera panned over to Quinn, he definitely appeared to be scowling. I was curious as to whether he bothered to clap after Rauner’s remarks as a basic show of courtesy. The camera had moved off of Quinn by the time Rauner concluded his speech.

  13. - Dime Store - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    A great tribute to a great lady… I’m still trying to decipher Gov. Thompson’s disjointed speech. I’m not sure he knew he was at the Topinka memorial.

  14. - scott aster - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Dime Store……that is what trial lawyers do…

  15. - Max's Mom - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    Nancy Kimme’s tribute was so touching. She really got the essence of her best friend JBT. They were a team. Such a hard loss.

  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Thompson was disjointed because he just learned an antique he just bought for $8,000 was originally sold by Pottery Barn.

  17. - Scooby - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    It was a wonderful celebration of Judy. Lot’s of tears but a lot of laughs. Nancy did a great job, as Judy would want. To lighten it up!

  18. - Shore - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    The video was priceless and I thought you and Roe Conn did the best job in giving those of us who didn’t know her that well a sense of the individual.

    Governor Quinn could have lightened up. He needs to handle his defeat as more of a statesman. Democrats have done a lot of winning lately here and he needs to show some of the same grace Republicans have in defeat over the last 15 years.
    Not sure where edgar or mike madigan were. Nice of Rahm to show.

    Been tough year for the state’s prominent female political faces of the last few decades-byrne, netsch, topinka-some fresh faces needed as well as a final column or two on what they as a group meant.

  19. - Casual Observer - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    I’m sure George Ryan could have told some great stories but that would have been….awkward.

  20. - Union Leader - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    I don’t remember where I saw it, but someone remarked last week that JBT was everyone’s favorite aunt.

    That’s exactly right. What a full life, to be beloved by so many, far and wide, high and low.

    I wrote that last week.

  21. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    “Democrats have done a lot of winning lately here and he needs to show some of the same grace Republicans have in defeat over the last 15 years.”

    The GOP hasn’t shown a lot of grace here in Sangamon County for the last 15 years.

  22. - Former Titan - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    Rich, just wanted to echo the compliments on your remarks yesterday: Reflect on what you most admired about this unique person and then emulate that in your own life. Honor her legacy by living up to her example. Wonderful message.

  23. - Black Ivy - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    I was heartened to see opposing politicians come together for Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. She deserved our unfettered attention as we said our goodbyes.

  24. - Apocalypse Now - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    =I’m sure George Ryan could have told some great stories but that would have been….awkward=
    Why do some dopes, always have to take a political shot on a solemn occasion.

  25. - Amalia - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    nice job from Birkett paying appropriate deference to the speakers. he gave kudos to all of them, Quinn included. it was classy.

  26. - Casual Observer - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    I must be a dope if I fail to understand how that was a political shot. George loved Judy and I’m sure would have loved to have a chance to share some stories. I think it was proper, although difficult, for him to stand down for this occasion.

  27. - Kathryn - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 6:33 pm:

    I thought Thompson’s speech was labored. It wore me out watching him try to get the words out.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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