Governors past and present believe Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka will be remembered fondly by the people of Illinois. Energetic, compassionate, witty, these are all words that are being used to describe Topinka after she died due to complications from a stroke. Gov. Pat Quinn adds another adjective to the mix. “She was a force of nature,” Quinn said. “A good-natured person if there ever was one, with a tremendous sense of humor, who cared about people. Everyday people.”
Former Gov. Jim Edgar says Topinka was happiest when she was in public office. Though she may have been hurt when she lost the 2006 governor’s race to Rod Blagojevich, Edgar says she didn’t take it personally, even after Blagojevich’s corruption became apparent years later. “I never heard her gloating after Blagojevich went off to prison,” Edgar said. “I think privately she just said ‘Well, I tried to tell people.’” Edgar says Topinka was one of the best politicians he’s seen, and believes Republicans and Democrats in the state should follow her example of working with the opposing party.