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In memory of Jon Bauman (”Arthur Andersen”)

Monday, Jan 7, 2019

Posted by Barton Lorimor

* Jon Bauman, the loyal aid to former Gov. Jim Thompson who rose to the highest ranks of the Teachers Retirement System, died Saturday morning at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield after an unsuspecting illness took a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse. He was 62 years old.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced, and they are likely to be made in his given name instead of the one we all knew him by in Capitol Fax comments: Arthur Andersen.

The Bauman family said memorials may be made to the “Bauman Education Fund” maintained at Carrollton Bank. The proceeds have been used to help pay for his kids’ education, which Jon cared for and supported through to his passing.

“AA” was a frequent contributor here - serving as a resident pension expert given his extensive background in the subject as Chief Investment Officer and later Executive Director at TRS. His family shared with me they sometimes found their Dad groggy in the morning because he had pulled an all-nighter reading reports, articles, and preparing notes in anticipation of a day that would be heavily spent keeping the discussion in the Capitol Fax comments informed and on-track.

As Oswego Willy put it as we chatted off-line yesterday…

“He looked at numbers and figures without forgetting the people are families affected by them. He loved Illinois unabashedly, but spoke of the challenges Illinois faced very candidly. He was a loyal, old school Republican tracing back to Thompson working up the ranks of politics and government.”

To wit, AA recently said in response to a question about which former governor we admired most…

Jim Thompson, with honorable mention to Jim Edgar. JRT gave a lot of youngsters their start in government in positions that were way over our heads. AA will never forget the opportunity I was given. He was the smartest guy and the best practical politician to hold the office in a long time.

* He took his work seriously, though was more than ready to share his tremendous sense of humor. Even after Jon’s forced departure from TRS, AA would so pointedly reference his own run-ins with federal investigators and swindlers that on more than one occasion I called or messaged him to make sure he was not blowing his own cover.

When he was on, he was on. You really did not want to disagree with his facts and figures. If you were, chances are you were wrong. AA was also a great teacher, and took the time to explain without judgement the complex world of investments to those of us ignorant of crucial details.

Aiding him through most of the obscurities of state finance and pension law was an impressively sharp memory. I remember catching up with him not long after I took an appointment in the IDES Director’s Office managing internal policies and procedures. He regaled an instance back in the 1980s when he was running, what is now, the Bureau of Property Management and trying to establish a multi-agency office in East St. Louis. In full detail, he was able to recall how the project was made complicated by this rule, that law, and how this property manager was not a qualified vendor because of this procedure, etc.

It was amazing, and yet another reminder of how valuable his analysis was on the blog.

* While “Arthur” was an insightful read in comments and heckler-in-arms on Twitter, Jon was someone I considered a friend. He would accept my lunch invitations from time to time when our schedules aligned, and he was my first phone call whenever I had the blog and something broke in the pension realm. He was fun to be around, to text, or DM in the middle of the night when the news was just too hot to switch off at an acceptable hour.

Jon was a great story teller, and he was notorious for saving the very best for the very end. One of my favorites that I have (unsuccessfully) tried to retell is one that starts with a salesman and his assistant coming to town and ends with, “And that’s how the stock market works.”

Another memorable one was from his days at TRS. The bulk of it was about a Chicago-based investment company on the verge of losing its bid to manage some of the system’s portfolio until one of its partners presented at a board meeting in Springfield. It ended with, “And that’s how I met Bruce Rauner.”

* I called him out of the blue the week before Christmas to see if he might be available for lunch. Unfortunately, but not all that surprising given the spontaneity of the plan, that did not happen. We had hoped to connect just after the holidays. He had no idea how sick he was when I talked to him, nor, according to those who were with him, did he when he slipped into unconsciousness. He excitedly told me about his plans to be with his family and taking in every moment he could with his grandchildren.

Here is the last photo he posted on Facebook…

* “His life was full of us – his kids,” his daughter Molly said yesterday. “We never wondered if our parents were proud of us.”

Jon is survived by his four children, Jon (Emily) Bauman of Virginia Beach, Va., Molly Irwin (Erick) of Springfield, Emily Bauman, who is pursuing a Masters of Social Work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Megan Bauman, who is a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and two grandchildren, two-year-old Hendrick Irwin and four-month-old Elliana Bauman. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Erin Bauman.

* A suggestion for commenters who knew Jon throughout his life: As you can tell from the photo above, he was a fiercely proud grandfather. His grandchildren are young, so they might appreciate learning one day from you who their grandfather was, why he meant so much to us, and what traits of his you hope to emulate.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        

  1. - Levois - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:12 am:

    Welcome back Barton and condolences to Mr. Bauman’s family & friends.

  2. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:19 am:

    Deepest conferences to the family and friends of Mr. Bauman. He was a great commenter. Very sad to learn.

  3. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:24 am:

    I am very saddened by this news. He was a bright star on this blog and he’ll be missed. Condolences to his family and friends. This is a terrible loss.

  4. - Tom Kacich - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:28 am:

    He was his old man’s son. His father was a good man too — Floyd Bauman, a dedicated, longtime member of the Champaign County Board, who was a loyal Republican but who always worked with Dems to get things done the right way. Condolences to Jon’s family.

  5. - A guy - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:30 am:

    Artie was a clear beacon in the fog. Uber-aware, and as congenial as they get. RIP sir. You finished the race to soon, but no question…you finished. Godspeed to his family.

  6. - Stumpy's bunker - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:30 am:

    So very sorry to hear of his too-soon passing. Sounds like a great family man & wonderful accolades from his Capt. Fax peers. When he posted, you certainly knew more than you did before.

  7. - dbk - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    AA was one of those whose comments I always read carefully, deferred to, and learned a lot from.

    Sometimes we forget that there are human beings at the other end of our handles here - this is a wonderful reminder and he seems to have been just the sort of person I would have imagined him to be from his comments here.

    Sincere condolences to his children, other family members, and those who knew him well.

  8. - Norseman - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:38 am:

    OMG, what a gut punch. I considered AA to be a great blog friend and kindred spirit. He was an extremely proud father. I’m sure they’re very proud of him. My condolences to this great public servants family.

  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:39 am:

    I am his next door neighbor and have been visiting this site for at almost 10 years never knowing that was him posting. We had never spoke as he rarely went in his yard but I had spoke with his wife a few times before she passed and she was very nice.

  10. - Dr. Pepper - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:41 am:

    RIP cuz

  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    I was so sad to hear Jon passed.

    I had the privilege of chatting with Jon a great deal. He was someone I had such great respect. His knowledge of the policy history and the fiscal numbers to them, he educated me often and reminded me not that “it’s been going on for a while”, Jon could explain the real policy moves and political maneuvering in context, and in a way that you never felt you were being swamped with numbers, or overwhelmed with partisan politics. Frankly, while an old school Republican, fiercely loyal, Jon would be the one to remind me where some pitfalls happened, no matter the side.

    Some of the best things we chatted about was his family. He was so proud of his children. The type of pride that isn’t ownership of them. Jon’s beaming pride was founded on what wonderful individuals they were, striving and reaching their goals, dreams, and wanting them happy, and being there to support them. You couldn’t help but be drawn in by the stories he told of his children and how so very proud he was.

    Jon made me laugh. That’s important. We all can take things far too serious, and things that need serious attention, they got that, but the silly, funny, ridiculous, politics and governing can’t help but have these things. Jon was willing to laugh and take stock when defaulting to the serious would be the easier tact.

    Jon was a great commenter here. His perspective embodies the institutional knowledge and political memory you knew you could lean on when those like me lack one or both of his great gifts here. While Jon could’ve easily talked circles around me on some policy, he chose to unselfishly share, keeping me focused in our chats without making me feel as unknowing as I already knew I was.

    Godspeed, Jon.

    The consulting firm we joked of often is forever closed. Your welcoming and kind heart towards me, I won’t forget. I indeed lost a good friend.

    To his family I say thank you for sharing him, and know how much he loved you all, how terribly proud he was of you, and you all were never far from his mind or heart.


    Oswego Willy

  12. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    We lost a really good policy wonk and overall good guy. Jon was a professional throughout and his passing leaves me both stunned and saddened, but he leave a legacy that will endure for decades to come.

    Rest in peace, Jon.

  13. - RNUG - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 10:56 am:

    I did not know AA in real life but I’M,m sure our paths crossed once or twice. I’ll miss his contributions here.

  14. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    Gone too soon, regrets to the family. Very nice eulogy, by the way.

  15. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:10 am:

    What an outstanding eulogy for a dedicated public servant. He will be missed.

  16. - Philbo55 - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    First post,after lurking for several years.I worked at TRS, under Jon. The governor shafted him into resigning, quite unfairly.I’m shocked that we’ve lost him. R.I.P, Boss.

  17. - LINK - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:21 am:

    I knew Jon from back in the late 60’s to early 70’s back in Champaign. Tom K. (above) is spot on with regards to Jon’s father, Floyd, and OW, that was a moving write-up. I join the chorus in sending condolences to Jon’s family.

  18. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    Thanks for posting Barton.
    AA (Jon) will be missed here for sure, but appears to leave an even larger hole in the lives of his family.
    Peace to all.

  19. - Aldyth - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:26 am:

    Godspeed and thank you for all of the times you brought clarity to confusion.

  20. - PublicServant - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:27 am:

    I only knew AA through Capfax. I respected his commentary immensely. Informed, articulate, and compassionate in his viewpoint. It would have been an honor and a privilege to have known him in the real world.

  21. - illini - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    Right now I feel like I have lost one of my best friends even though we never met or talked in person.

    I got to know “Arthur” when I first started following this blog 10 years ago. I quickly learned that he had a depth of knowledge on matters that I would never question. His insights into the nuances of governance and finance were beyond my training or experience. But I always learned from his comments. And I am better for that.

    His comments here were always a must read for me. And at times we had some good discussions. Normally I would comment on his post, but occasionally he would have some thoughts on something I would write.

    It was obvious to all of us that “Arthur” knew policy and was proud to have worked for our State.

    The one thing that he an I have in common is that we both got several degrees from the University of Illinois and that he was as proud and supportive of that institution as am I. I only wish I knew him those many years ago.

    This blog has lost one of its most valued contributors

    My deepest condolences to his family.

    Rest in peace, my friend.

  22. - RNUG - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:40 am:

    It turns out my memory is a bit faulty. Reflecting on it, I think I did meet Jon at least once to supply him with some hard to find CD’s of Jerry Armstrong aka Pork and the Havana Ducks.

  23. - levivotedforjudy - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    I worked with Jon at DCCA. I met him when he was a Deputy Director of Administration. But, I remember his skill set was so vast that responsibilities were added to the job (project financing, incentive package review) that were unprecedented and had to be stripped away when he left. And….in the most tense times, his wit would calm everyone down. I’m definitely going to miss him (and I had no idea he was AA).

  24. - Emily - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 12:08 pm:

    I have been a great friend of his daughter Molly for years. Jon was a great husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many. He was quick witted and fun to be around, the room was never dull. He was the best at telling stories and making a bad situation positive. He was very smart and great at what he did, and it shines through each one of his children. Gone but never forgotten RIP J.B.

  25. - Honeybear - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 12:09 pm:

    Makes everything real
    It’s just a blog
    and then suddenly it’s not.
    It’s a place where a man
    and worked to make our state better,
    with what agency he had
    his voice.
    I’m just
    It makes it real. I hope I never forget
    never ever
    that real people speak here.
    That they are trying, as I
    to make things better.
    Arthur Anderson……Jon
    always did his best.
    He was a great advocate for Illinois
    I wish I had known him in person.
    It saddens me that his
    voice on this blog is gone.
    I know that he
    effected me.
    My deepest condolences to his family.

  26. - FormerParatrooper - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    Rest in Peace. You left the world better than you found it.

  27. - titan - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    He was a very knowledgeable and thoughtful commenter. He stayed focused on the facts of the topic, and never descended into the fray of the personal squabbling.

    Rich’s great network of sources is certainly a main pillar of what makes this the best Illinois politics blog. But the core of superb commenters like AA may be just as much a part of the value here. He’ll be missed.

  28. - JS Mill - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 12:28 pm:

    I am so sad to hear of Jon’s passing. He was one of my favorite commentors. It is a loss for the blog. My prayers to his family.

  29. - thunderspirit - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    I only knew AA from here, but found his insights and contributions extremely valuable.

    I’ll miss those, but it’s a teeny fraction of the hole his absence leaves to those who knew and loved him. Peace.

  30. - G'Kar - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 12:43 pm:

    What a shock. Deepest condolences for his family.
    Capitol Fax is poorer by his passing.

  31. - Blue Dog Dem - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:18 pm:

    AA. By your comments here you are a class act. May you rest in peace.

  32. - Jimmy H - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:30 pm:

    I’m saddened to hear of Jon’s passing. I didn’t know him personally, but as a routine reader of Capfax, his comments stood out as a voice of reason. I never skipped over his comments. My sincere condolences to Jon’s family.

  33. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:34 pm:

    Shocked and very sad. A knowledgeable voice of reason with a wicked sense of humor to boot. A true compassionate conservative. We all could use a lot more real ones like him.

  34. - DuPage - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 1:53 pm:

    RIP Mr. Bauman.

  35. - Fiercely Independent - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 2:05 pm:

    Whenever I saw a post from AA, I always made sure I read it, because it I knew it would contain wisdom in understandable language. Thank you, Jon.

  36. - A guy - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    Everyone’s “unmasking” should be this gracious.

  37. - My New Handle - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    I knew Mr. Bauman personally, but not professionally. I admired him and I am sure his children are stunned and grieving. He had some bad turns but his self-confidence got him through. Good man.

  38. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 3:37 pm:

    My condolences to his family and friends. I truly appreciated his posts and his willingness to explain complex topics without complaint.

  39. - TAT25 - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 4:06 pm:

    As with Philbo55, Jon was my boss at TRS for many years. One memory was the “would you like cheese with that whine?” sign that he kept on his desk. He knew his stuff about Illinois pensions and could be lots of fun. RIP, JB.

  40. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 4:43 pm:

    We (my mother, siblings and me) met Jon in 1989 at my father’s wake. Jon knew my father via dad’s days as Chief engineer at the JRTC. Like many people in attendance at the wake of a 49-year old father of 4…Jon offered condolences to our family in addition to customary offer to help “in any way possible”. The difference was that Jon sincerely meant it. He immediately followed up and continued thru the years. Jon is and Absolute class act and I’m honored to have known him.

    Brian Hynes

  41. - Original Rambler - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 4:52 pm:

    So sorry to hear. I always read his posts carefully since they were more educational than partisan political. Going to be tough to fill the void his absence will leave on this blog. My condolences to his family.

  42. - Mama - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 5:17 pm:

    AA will be missed. I always enjoyed reading his comments. May you rest in peace.

  43. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 5:36 pm:

    This one really hit me like a load of bricks. I didn’t see it coming, and have been pretty emotional and processing it all day long.

    It feels like losing JBT and Schnorf. Real, Main Street, Republican, public servant, conservatives, in a time when we all need them so much.

    I didn’t know Jon, but I knew AA.

    AA was my great friend on this blog, ever since I got here. He was like my big brother.

    I knew he had been a great public servant, a GOP conservative who knew he had a job to do, not just cop a selfish attitude, set his hair on fire and whine every day.

    A real public servant, who had a job to do. And he did it, the best he could, in this very diverse, divided and difficult state. It ain’t easy.

    AA was way smarter than me; he taught me so much. And when I was out of line, he set me straight, through wisdom and logic. Like a big brother.

    And he made me laugh, so many times, like a big brother. Like the story he told when Pate made all the Illinois GOP national convention delegation buy extremely flammable polyester orange blazers from his wife’s company. And Pate wore white shoes with the orange blazer.

    We live in reactionary, indecent times. This too, shall pass.

    But let’s aspire to the ethics and public service of AA, a profoundly decent man, who through his acts demonstrated his love for his family, his friends, his church and his community.

    Peace be with you and yours, brother. Put the beer on ice, see you on the other side.

  44. - Not a Billionaire - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 5:48 pm:

    I enjoyed my conversations with him. Fred Klonsky has a nice tribute to him too. My wife went pretty high up not to Jobs level .Looking at all the stress he had I am glad she didnt. We can enjoy our retirement. Wish he could have had longer.

  45. - @misterjayem - Monday, Jan 7, 19 @ 7:15 pm:

    When a wise man dies, a library has burned.

    AA was one of the keepers of Capitol Fax’s institutional memory. A keeper of Springfield’s institutional memory.

    He’d been there.
    He’d done that.
    He had the bruises to prove it.

    To those who visited CapFax willing to learn, his knowledge and experience have been invaluable. He knew the numbers and, more importantly, he knew what those numbers meant.

    And he could summarize and communicate that meaning with a dry humor that sometimes made me green with envy: “About the only positive thing I can find to say about it is that nothing is blatantly unconstitutional.”


    Rich asks that commenters “be civilized and smart.” Arthur Andersen’s posts embodied that.

    I only knew Jon Bauman through this forum and the Twitter.

    My Twitter bio asks, “What if ‘Twitter Friends’ are ‘Real Friends’?”

    As if in reply, Arthur Andersen’s Twitter bio says, “Take nothing too seriously.”

    Like I said: A wise man.

    So forgive me if I’m taking this too seriously, AA — I’m really gonna miss you, my friend.

    – MrJM

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