CHICAGO — Former Illinois Gov. James Thompson died Friday at the age of 84, his family said.
Thompson, known as “Big Jim” because of this 6-foot, 6-inch frame, was that state’s longest-serving governor, holding the office from 1977 to 1991.
“On behalf of the entire state of Illinois, MK and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Gov. Jim Thompson,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “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.”
Jayne Thompson said her husband’s death was sudden, telling the Chicago Tribune “his heart simply stopped.”
Thompson was a lifelong Chicagoan, earning a law degree from Northwestern in 1959. Hew worked in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office before President Richard Nixon appointed him U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said Thompson’s “accomplishments still stand strong.”
“Governor Thompson was a friend, mentor and an exemplary statesman who loved Illinois,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said. “He was a hands-on Governor who loved the process of getting things done in Springfield, and his accomplishments still stand strong today. Our state was fortunate to have such a dedicated leader.”