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Former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson Dies At 84

IMSA Digital Commons

The Republican was Illinois' longest-serving governor from 1977-1991. He was known as "Big Jim" due to his six foot six frame.

According to his biography from the Abraham Lincoln Presidental Library and Museum based in Springfield, Thompson first came to prominence as a U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  He prosecuted former governor Otto Kerner on corruption charges.

Thompson was considered a moderate Republican and fiscal conservative. During his tenure, he created the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

Thompson Oral History Project

After serving as governor, he worked in the private sector as chair of the Chicago law firm, Winston and Strawn. He also served on the 9/11 Commission, and helped defend Governor George Ryan during Ryan's corruption trial.

In 1979, under Thompson’s administration, lawmakers acquired the law school for Northern Illinois University from Lewis University. In 2013, Thompson received an honorary degree from NIU's law school.

Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement on the passing of  Thompson:

“On behalf of the entire state of Illinois, MK and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Governor Jim Thompson. As the longest-serving governor in Illinois history, ‘Big Jim’ was known to treat people he encountered with kindness and decency. He dedicated himself to building positive change for Illinois, and he set an example for public service of which Illinoisans should be proud. He will be remembered and revered as one of the titans in the history of state government.”

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