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Steve Schnorf

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017

* Our good friend Steve Schnorf passed away last night. This is from his official biography

In his distinguished governmental career, he has held the positions of:

    * Director, Illinois Bureau of the Budget (1997-2002);
    * Director of Policy for Governor Jim Edgar (1994-1997);
    * Director, Illinois Department of Central Management Services (1991-1994, 2002);
    * Director of Drivers Services, Office of the Secretary of State (1983-1990); and
    * Administrator of the Senior Citizens Division, Office of the Secretary of State (1981-1983).

…In his various capacities in Illinois state government, Schnorf played lead negotiating roles on many key legislative initiatives, including: Illinois welfare reform (1995); Chicago school reform (1996); reorganization of the Department of Human Services (1997); Illinois FIRST (1999); and Soldiers Field renovations (2001).

He participated in all meetings of the Governor and four legislative leaders for five years, affording him broad exposure to the interactions between the executive and legislative branches. Schnorf’s governmental experience includes:

    * contract negotiations with the state’s largest employee union;
    * developing five state budgets, each totaling approximately $50 billion;
    * supervising all state bond sales for five years (consisting of some 40–50 sales totaling more than $10 billion); and
    * serving as the Governor’s key liaison, on a variety of issues, with business and labor interest groups, as well as political leaders.

He also chaired the Procurement Policy Board of Illinois (1997-2002); chaired the Illinois Debt Collection Board (1991-1994, 2002); and served as a member of the State Employee Retirement Systems Board of Trustees (1997-2002).

Prior to beginning his state governmental career, Schnorf served people with disabilities on behalf of several not-for-profit organizations and associations (1969-1981) and taught History and Social Studies at Robinson High School (1966-1969).

Schnorf received his Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in Education from Eastern Illinois University. Schnorf resides in Springfield, Illinois.

He was also instrumental in passing landmark legislation to reform the state’s adoption process. He and his wife Jane are adoptive parents.

Steve was my friend, but he was also one of my most valued mentors and advisors. And a lot of folks can say the very same thing about him. We’re all better off for having known that man.

* From his daughter Rebecca…

Last night I had to say goodbye to the man who has been the most constant presence in my life over the past 32.5 years; to the man who has stood by me and supported me through every struggle and who has been there to celebrate every success; and to the man who, when we started the wild ride called parenthood 8.5 years ago, completely rearranged his life, without being asked, to step in as another primary caregiver for our kids. My family’s grief over the past 2.5 months since this terrible disease called cancer entered our lives has been immense, but today it feels particularly overwhelming. My kids miss their pop pop.

He was a heck of a good grandfather and he loved being involved in their lives. I wish I was half the man he was.

* One last photo before we say our goodbyes to one of our most valued and respected commenters…

Steve didn’t want a funeral, but he did want a “celebration of life.” He and I talked about it for a while, and it’ll probably be held later this month or early April, depending on family schedules. I’ll make sure you know as soon as I know.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - SOIL M - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:39 am:

    My thoughts and prayers are with Steves Family and friends. He was a truly great man who touched many lives and an inspiration to all. He will be missed but we are all better for having his influence for the time we did.

  2. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:39 am:

    Rest in Peace, Steve. You will be missed.

  3. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:39 am:

    My sincere condolences to all of Steve’s family and friends. When one looked up ‘Public Servant’ in a dictionary they could very well have found a picture of Steve. May God bring comfort and peace to all who knew and loved him.

  4. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:41 am:

    I met Steve when he was lobbying for people with disabilities.

    He was a good man.

  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:44 am:

    When he was George Ryan’s Budget Director and the state has financial problems, he proposed budget cuts that were needed.

    Unfortunately, Rod Blagojevich did not follow through…after campaigning against them.

  6. - Archiesmom - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    A smart and generous man who truly walked the walk. He will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, of whom he had many, and we will all miss him dearly.

  7. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:46 am:

    I am so sorry. My prayers for all those who loved and cared for him. Thank you Rich for illuminating his life and service. It is a beacon for us in these times.

  8. - RNUG - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:47 am:

    One of the good ones. He will be missed.

  9. - Silent Budgeteer - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:48 am:

    From Mrs. Budgeteer and family, sincere condolences to all of Director Schorf’s family and friends. He worked hard to restore integrity and honesty to Illinois government, as well as making sure the least among us were given the respect and dignity they deserve. He will be missed.

    May the choirs of angels rise to greet him; may they escort him through the gates of Paradise; may he now rest in the peace he could not always have in this life.

  10. - Aldyth - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:49 am:

    Godspeed, sir. Give our best to JBT.

  11. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:50 am:

    A good, decent man of integrity and compassion who through hard work and brains left it better than he found it. That’s a life in full, and an example to aspire to.

  12. - Not It - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:50 am:

    I never knew the man, but we did meet several times at various events and meetings. I was always struck by how he was incredibly influential but incredibly normal. We need more people like him who get involved in government because they enjoy making a difference and getting things done.

  13. - Earnest - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    My condolences to his family as well as to Rich and the many others whose lives he touched. Our state was so fortunate to have his contributions over so many years. I will miss his posts very much–in particular, he could describe positions on issues which really helped me appreciate different perspectives than my own.

  14. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    Rest in Peace Steve, it was an honor to serve under you at CMS.

  15. - @MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    Such a loss…

    – MrJM

  16. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:55 am:

    My sincere gratitude to this man of great service. And my condolences to his family and friends who must feel a great loss.

  17. - Barton Lorimor - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 9:56 am:

    Schnorf family…thank you for sharing him with us. I imagine that was not always easy, but we are better people because of it.

  18. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:03 am:

    A measure of a person can be taken by the lives they’ve touched.

    Steve Schnorf touched lives directly as mentor and friend, he touched them as husband, father, and grandfather, and Steve Schnorf touch lives as a public servant.

    In every instance, Steve Schnorf was able to be the best of what human nature gives to each role, allowing all the very best qualities he carried to be transformed into him being the standard by which you yourself hope to emulate.

    It’s one thing to leave your handprint, it’s another to leave your handprint with such caring and thoughtfulness simply by being your best self for others, and being remembered by your selflessness in a life so well lived.

    My sincere condolences to the Schnorf Family, his many friends, and those who weren’t as lucky to know him well but fully understand the positive impact and influences Steve Schnorf made, and the many lives Steve Schnorf touched.


    Oswego Willy

  19. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:05 am:

    Illinois has lost a good, decent man who did his best for all of us. On this particularly momentous day of this session, I hope our elected officials will put aside their differences and push through a budget. Do it for Schnorf. Condolences to his family and many friends.

  20. - Foster brooks - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:05 am:

    Rest in peace steve. You will be missed on the blog.

  21. - Steve Brown - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:06 am:

    Our prayers for comfort and strength for Steve’s family during these sad times.

    A very unique guy who could grasp complex problems and explain to anyone willing to listen. He had a lot of life experiences that contributed to that talent.

    it seems especially sad that a guy who worked as hard as he did for as long as he did was not given more time to kick back.

  22. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:08 am:

    Prayers to his family and RIP Steve. A better public employee never walked the earth.

  23. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:14 am:

    RIP Steve Schnorf.

    Mr.Schnorf had a thread of reasonability in his comments. We need people with his attitude in high office–someone who doesn’t loathe the other side and doesn’t want to cripple it. Someone who wants to make deals and respects the other side enough to not force it to surrender under terrible terms.

  24. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    These are ugly times in state government - each side doing its best to demolish the other, and thinking they are doing ‘the right thing’, so vindication is assured. I believe the big ‘ol pendulum is ever swinging, and impersonal in its trajectories. Once, ever so briefly, it hits a center spot, where ’sides’ do not exist, and balance is achieved. But then, on it goes. Schnorf always seemed to seek that center spot where opposites could meet and try to slow the volatility - that type of person doesn’t seem to exist today, and we are worse for it.

  25. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    Terribly sad.

    My best to the family.

  26. - Kirk Dillard - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:21 am:

    Steve was the most competent, thoughtful and insightful person I have ever been honored to have worked with in Springfield. He was simply the best…and very unique. My deepest sympathies to Jane and the Schnorf family. Steve ALWAYS gave sound advice to Governors on down to students. His passing is such a loss to Illinois, a place he loved and served with distinction. The only thing he loved more than Illinois was his family, children and those people with disabilities who need a hand or open heart!

  27. - AC - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:25 am:

    My condolences to his family and friends. We need more people like him in government.

  28. - Al Grosboll - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:33 am:


    Thank you for your thoughtful post on Steve Schnorf and for keeping your readers informed on his condition. As I told one of his daughters last night, Steve was truly a one-of-a-kind. He will be deeply missed.

    I worked with Steve off and on for more than three decades. He was smart and witty; he was thoughtful and caring; and he was especially fun to be around. Steve was able to work in multiple worlds and balance competing interests. As Budget Director for two governors, Steve cared deeply about human services but he also had to shape balanced budgets - that is not easy, particularly when revenues are declining or stagnant. What we hope for is a person who will find ways to balance a budget humanely. Because Steve knew the human service arena and cared about essential programs, he could do the job with smart and efficient approaches rather than with a meat cleaver.

    Beyond his competency and good public service, we should remember Steve as a good human being, brilliant thinker, loyal friend to many, and wonderful father and grandfather.

  29. - Down South - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    All of us in Illinois are better off for having had such a man as Steve Schnorf in our midst.

  30. - Joe from Joliet - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    I do not know where I would be with the support Steve gave me over many years. This state has not seen a finer public servant. I tried to live up to his examples of hard work, know your subject and always give straight answers.

    God bless you, Steve.

  31. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:59 am:

    Rest in peace.

  32. - A guy - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 11:01 am:

    He was. All that. RIP Good man.

  33. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    He was an outstanding public servant throughout his career. He is from an era when folks worked for the citizens of this state, not just “taxpayers”. Steve recognized the responsibilities of his position, and was conservative in wielding those responsibilities. When he left in retirement, Illinois entered a downward spiral of political malfiesance which continues today.

    Steve’s guidance regarding government has been missed for over a decade, and will continue to be missed in the future.

    Thank you for being our friend, mentor, counsellor, and dedicated public servant.

    You did well.

  34. - e - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    Sweet picture of a very special man. As an alum of GOMB who worked there many years after he was director, I can attest to his lasting legacy among those hard-working folks. Illinois has lost a great mind.

  35. - walker - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    A rich celebrator of life. Bless him and his.

  36. - cc - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    A great loss.
    Condolences to family and friends

  37. - Way Way Down Here - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    I only met Steve a few times, but the word “decent” keeps coming to mind. Condolences to his family and friends.

  38. - illinifan - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    RIP. I remember him from the DHS reorg days. Good man and served his state well. Prayers are with his family and friends as they mourn his death.

  39. - Ginhouse Tommy - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    The state can be a breeding ground for back stabbing, liars and just mean people. Steve Schnof was the exact opposite of that. In his posts he took the high road and gave positive outlook especially on the budget standoff. It doesn’t sound like he had a bitter bone in his body. He had a conscience, a rare commodity in a state administrator. He was just a good man. Condolences to his family and to you Rich. I know everyone who knew him will miss him. Very sad day.

  40. - illinoised - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    Condolences to his family and friends. I can tell from Rich’s and other posters’ comments that he was a wonderful and talented individual.

  41. - Laurence Msall - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 1:31 pm:

    Good Bye Steve and may God continue to bless your entire family. Steve was someone who got involved in government to help people and never lost sight of that purpose. He lived his life to help people and grew his family to do the same. I learned a ton from Steve about government finance, but it was the generous example he and Jane set in caring for and growing their family that most impressed me. Our state, especially our most vulnerable citizens have lost a true champion.

  42. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    I am bereft. My heartfelt condolences to his family. This is a loss to everyone in Illinois. He is irreplaceable.

  43. - Boone's is back - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    My condolences to Steve’s family and to the many in the political community whom his life impacted. People like Steve are a rare commodity, and today’s environment shows just how special, and needed, people like Steve are.

  44. - Responsa - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    I only knew of Steve through this blog. RIP Mr. Schnorf and condolences to family members and close friends.

  45. - Donald O'Connell - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 2:17 pm:

    Always a teacher, Steve brought me up to speed quickly when I was appointed to serve as a liquor control commissioner along with him. I learned so much from him and was always amazed at how simply he could explain the complexities before us. What a giant we have lost. I will miss him. Condolences to his family.

  46. - facts are stubborn things - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 2:35 pm:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I am very sorry for your loss and the sorrow that you feel. In time, not now or fore a while, the wounds will heal and his memories will bring smiles instead of tears. He is a part of all of you and over time you will each take part in filling the whole that he leaves. May God be with you during this difficult time. He is free of pain now. I had the pleasure of working with Steve for many years and found him to be a gentleman, he always treated me with respect.

  47. - alas - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    A true public servant with intelligence, strategic sense, integrity, and goodwill - few like him. What a loss.

  48. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    I met Mr. Schnorf 51 years ago as a teacher at Robinson HS. I was a student but not in his class. Many of my friends were and remained in touch with him all these years. He returned for as many homecomings and class reunions as possible and he was always welcomed and greeted warmly.
    I looked forward to Steve’s post on this blog. I appreciated the honesty, the logic, and intelligence in his words.
    He will be missed greatly.

  49. - Cardsmama - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 3:50 pm:

    Anonymous at 3:48 is me.

  50. - Nearly Normal - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 3:54 pm:

    So sorry to read about Steve. He was a good man who will be sadly missed. Prayers to his family and friends.

  51. - Ginhouse Tommy - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 5:09 pm:

    Must add this. Wonderful, wonderful picture of “Paw paw” posing with the grand kids. Looks like they adored each other. Man, you can’t beat that.

  52. - Jon Bauman - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 5:47 pm:

    My heartfelt sympathies to Jane and the Schnorf family.

    Steve was one of the few people with whom I felt like I learned something every time I had a talk with him. He was one of the few who tamed the CMS monster and made it run well.

    Our tribute to Steve should be to teach, not condemn; to work for the best Illinois can be; and to be better friends. Life is too short.

    May He raise you up On Eagles’ Wings attached to a shining gold motorcycle.

  53. - FormerParatrooper - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 6:14 pm:

    I never had the honor or pleasure to meet the man, but I read his words here. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. RIP.

  54. - Tony Leone - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 6:42 pm:

    Steve was admired by so many in Illinois Government. We worked together in the Edgar campaigns but I know what a valuable contributor to the Governor Ryan administration when budget were balanced and political compromise was a winner.

  55. - Molly maguire - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 6:53 pm:

    Respect, my brother.

  56. - Ceci Velasco - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:14 pm:

    It seems a lifetime ago that Steve brought me into State Government and was one of the first to support me when I put in a bid for Comptroller. I learned transparency and good government from him. Condolences to his family, he leaves a strong legacy of the many lives he touched.

  57. - Blago's Hare - Tuesday, Feb 28, 17 @ 10:17 pm:

    My sincere condolences to his family and to you all who knew and worked with him. Rich, my heart aches because I know your’s does. Peace to all.

  58. - Mark Williams - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 12:26 am:

    Steve was an instructor when I was a student at
    Robinson High School back in 67/68…..excellent instructor, and respected.

  59. - Mark Williams - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 12:26 am:

    Steve was an instructor when I was a student at
    Robinson High School back in 67/68…..excellent instructor, and respected.

  60. - Rabid - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 4:22 am:

    The burden has lifted,the celebration of a wealthy man who made it threw the eye of the needle to his riches, congratulations.

  61. - College towns friends - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 7:49 am:

    Steve was influential in so many lives. He was one of the good guys! So sorry for the family’s loss.

  62. - Mike Drake - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 9:06 am:

    Steve never forgot where he came from, and he came from a good place. He was a credit to Charleston, Illinois, and loved keeping the memories alive. His oldest friends will not forget, and as long as we’re alive, he will be alive.

  63. - Linda Toothman - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 3:04 pm:

    Steve was a very special person that Charleston, Il. Was proud to call him there hometown boy! He was my classmate and a class of 62 graduate of Charleston and a friend to everyone. He will definitely be missed. My prayers to his family.

  64. - Marty Schnorf - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 4:27 pm:

    Rich - Thank you for the kind words and for your friendship and support of my oldest brother, Steve Schnorf. IT was clear to me that you were one of his closest friends, and that he really enjoyed your company. Thanks for your friendship with him and for visiting with him so often at the hospital. I know he enjoyed that. - Marty Schnorf

  65. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 4:40 pm:

    Thanks, Marty! Hang in there, man.

  66. - Marcia and Ray Peterson - Wednesday, Mar 1, 17 @ 7:03 pm:

    Ray and I were neighbors if Steve’s in Springfield and then Rochester for a number of years. His daughter, Elizabeth, was friends with our children. Any passing is sad and our condolences are sent to his family. So sorry for your loss.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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