Longest-serving Illinois governor, James Thompson, dies at 84

Longest-serving Illinois governor, James Thompson, dies at 84

Former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson (R) died Friday evening at the age of 84.

His family told a local ABC affiliate that Thompson was recovering from an undisclosed disease at Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago when "he suddenly was stricken and passed Friday evening." 

Thompson, who was known as “Big Jim,” was the longest serving governor of Illinois, having filled the position from 1977 to 1991. 


The moderate Republican managed the state through recession years in the 1980s and helped put together a plan to help the Chicago White Sox get a new stadium to prevent them from moving out of state.

Current Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said a statement that Thompson “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,” Pritzker said. “He will be remembered and revered as one of the titans in the history of state government."

Illinois Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinHarris calls for pathway to citizenship for Dreamers on DACA anniversary The Hill's Morning Report - Biden on Putin: 'a worthy adversary' McConnell sparks new Supreme Court fight MORE (D) said that he and Thompson “were political adversaries yet personal friends back in the day when that was not uncommon.”

“Try as we might, we Democrats just could not beat Big Jim,” Durbin tweeted.