Former Illinois Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch has died at age 86.
Netsch’s former chief of staff and longtime friend Wendy Cohen says Netsch died early Tuesday. Netsch had said in January that she had been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a fatal nerve disorder.
Netsch spent 18 years serving in the state senate and was the first woman to run on a major ticket for governor in Illinois. The Democrat was known for her directness during her more than six decades in Illinois politics.
During her career, she served as an adviser to Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner Jr., helped rewrite the Illinois Constitution in 1970 and was elected state comptroller in 1990.
She ran for governor in 1994 and lost to Republican incumbent Gov. Jim Edgar.
The nephew of pioneering Illinois politician says she remained an active behind-the-scenes political player right up until her death.
Nephew Andy Kerr says the evening before Netsch was at home watching the TV
news and surrounded by newspapers.
Kerr says his aunt was always trying to stay up to date and even in her last
months was advising political candidates.
Netsch graduated first in her class from Northwestern Law in 1952, yet Kerr
says she could not get a job because she was a woman.
He says that experience drove her to fight all types of discrimination, which
became a hallmark of her career.