General News

Former Illinois Gov. James Thompson, ‘Big Jim,’ dies at 84

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 1985 file photo, Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson, behind the wheel of a Chrysler convertible, is joined by G. Glenn Gardner, left, and Yoichi Nakane, after a news conference in Chicago. Thompson, known as “Big Jim” during a long career that eventually made him the state's longest-serving chief executive, has died. He was 84. Thompson died Friday, Aug. 14, 2020 at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, his wife, Jayne, told the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. (AP Photo/Mark Elias, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson, known as “Big Jim” during a long career that eventually made him the state’s longest-serving chief executive, has died. He was 84.

Thompson died shortly after 8 p.m. Friday at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, his wife, Jayne, told the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. The Tribune, citing a police report, reported Thompson had been recovering there for several weeks after suffering heart problems.

“It was very sudden,” Jayne Thompson told the Tribune. “I was told that his heart simply stopped.”

Thompson, a Republican from Chicago, was first elected in 1976 and eventually served four terms before leaving office in 1991. A moderate, he managed the state through recession years in the 1980s. He also helped put together a plan to help the Chicago White Sox get a new stadium to head off a potential move out of state.

Widely respected across the state, Thompson was honored in 1993 when the state government building in downtown Chicago was named after him.

“As the longest-serving governor in Illinois history, ‘Big Jim’ was known to treat people he encountered with kindness and decency,” Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “Jim 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.”

“He was a great guy, no question about that,” said Republican former Gov. George Ryan. “He did a lot of good things for Illinois.”

Before becoming governor, Thompson was an assistant attorney general and a U.S. attorney, making a name for himself with anti-corruption cases that included prosecuting former Gov. Otto Kerner Jr.

About the author

Tori Holland

Tori Holland

After being a professional journalist for 5 years and understanding the ups and downs of health care sector all over the world, Tori shifted her focus to the digital world. Today, she works as a contributor for News Brig with a knack for covering general and health news in the best possible format.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest News