CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a brash pioneer for women in Illinois politics, died early Wednesday, less than a day after suffering a stroke.
Topinka, 70, had been elected to her second term as comptroller in November, and was preparing to be sworn in next month. She was the first woman to serve in two statewide offices, and the first female Republican to win her party’s nomination for governor.
Governor Pat Quinn ordered flags at state buildings lowered to half-mast until her funeral.
“She was one of a kind,” former Gov. Jim Thompson said.
Spokesman Brad Hahn said Topinka was hospitalized Tuesday, after feeling discomfort. After undergoing tests Tuesday at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, she appeared to be doing well, but then lost consciousness overnight, and died around 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to Hahn.
Topinka was also the first woman to serve as chair of the Illinois Republican Party.
Thompson called Topinka the “ultimate retail politician.”
“She was a smart, tough, blunt, plain-talking person that the voters in both parties responded to,” he said.