'Ideal Public Servant' Abner Mikva Dies In Chicago At 90

Jul 5, 2016

Abner Mikva, a former congressman, Illinois legislator, federal appellate judge and presidential adviser, has died. He was 90.

Abner Mikva, after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.
Credit whitehouse.gov

Brian Brady, the head of Mikva Challenge, a leadership organization Mikva founded, says Mikva died Monday in hospice care at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Brady says he learned of the death from Mikva's daughters.

Mikva, a liberal voice and stalwart of Illinois' political landscape for decades, was most recently active in pushing for the U.S. Senate to consider the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Mikva often told of how he initially tried to get involved in Chicago politics but was told: "We don't want nobody nobody sent."

Brady calls Mikva "the ideal public servant" who was saddened by growing bitter animosity between the parties in Washington.



Remembering Judge Mikva

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he regarded Mikva as his "North Star for integrity, independence and progressive values." Durbin says Mikva's "record of public service was proof that the good guys can win without selling their souls."

Son-in-law Steven Cohen says Mikva was diagnosed with bladder cancer several months ago, but remained "strong and active" until a couple of weeks ago. Cohen says the family thinks it is "fitting he died on the Fourth of July" because he was a "true patriot and had a flair for doing things in a historic way."

Cohen says he'll always remember Mikva's optimism during a close race for Congress in 1974. As the election returns came in and the family waited nervously, Mikva never wavered in optimism and belief in "democracy in action."

Cohen is married to Mikva's oldest of three daughters, Mary, who is a judge in the Cook County Circuit Court.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued this statement: "Abner Mikva was a dedicated public servant and principled leader, and his focus on encouraging youth to become active and engaged in the democratic process will be felt for generations. Our thoughts are with the entire Mikva family as they mourn their loss today.