Ex-County Board President John Stroger dead at 78
Unfortunately all the unscrupulous behavior following John Stroger's illness is what people remember most. How John Stroger was a President who held a Cook County District, as well as being president then became Bill Beavers', the Alderman who left his 7th Ward post. Bill Beavers, "The Hog with Big Nuts" leaves his Ward to his daughter Darcell, who was stomped in the election by Sandi Jackson, probably because so many people were upset with all the goings on around the Cook County Presidential election. People remember the surprised look on the faces of Physicians treating John Stroger as they snuck in and out of Rush Hospital using service elevators through the alley, as camera men caught them on film. People remember how after the deadline for any candidate to enter the CC President's race had expired, there was an illegible scribble on what supposedly was a resignation letter written by John Stroger. Yes, it's too bad that the things John Stroger had no control over is what people will remember most.And lest we forget, son Todd Stroger getting on the ballot for CC President, which he won, and all the activities that have followed.
January 18, 2008
BY STEVE PATTERSON and ABDON M. PALLASCH Staff Reporters
It’s “the end of an era.”
John Stroger was so much larger than life they did not even wait until he was dead to put his name on the Cook County Hospital he defied the critics to build.
According to officials, former Cook County Board President John Stroger has died.
Stroger had loyalty to family, supporters
I've been through a lot: Todd says
One of Stroger's final interviews
Stroger, a former Cook County Board president, died today at 8 a.m., nearly two years after suffering a stroke that ended a political career spanning four decades.
Mayor Daley announced the sad news at a Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast where Stroger’s closest political allies — none of whom had seen him since the stroke — were gathered.
“He was an inspiration to all of us in politics,” Daley said. “He really believed government could make changes. His greatest legacy is building Cook County Hospital. When people told him that public hospitals had ended many years ago, he firmly believed people needed good, quality health care.”
Stroger’s son Todd, who succeeded him as president, released this statement: “He dedicated his life to his family and gave generously of himself as an elected official. His love for this county knew no bounds and he will be deeply missed.’’
John Stroger suffered a stroke on March 14, 2006, and he had been in hospice care at Warren Barr Pavilion in the city during the days leading up to his death. His condition started worsening last night, close associates said.
His family was by his side Thursday night, said Donna Dunnings, John Stroger’s niece.
“My family appreciates all the prayers and support that we’ve had during this long struggle,” said Dunnings, referring to the period since John Stroger’s stroke as “a long, tiring process with peaks and valleys throughout.”
Dunnings described her uncle as “a caring, giving, loving man,” who always put people first.
Todd Stroger was dropping his children off at daycare at the time John Stroger died, Dunnings said.
Late this morning, workers were putting up purple and black bunting at the County Building in remembrance of John Stroger.
“John Stroger followed in Dr. Martin Luther King’s footsteps,” former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun said. “It could be the end of an era of the people who helped forge Chicago politics. He will be missed because he made such a huge contribution, left such a big footprint.”
John Stroger’s fans cite the hospital that bears his name as proof of his commitment to helping the poor.
“When I remember John Stroger is every time I go by Cook County Hospital,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, an activist-priest. “I remember that nobody wanted to do it because nobody really gives a damn about poor people. John Stroger decided that if he did nothing else the whole time he was in Cook County government, that he was going to build a new hospital for poor people. Everybody tried to stop him.”
And while critics point out all the political friends of John Stroger’s who got jobs or contracts at the hospital and throughout county government, Pfleger and other defenders make no apologies for the use of county government as a jobs program for Chicago’s poor neighborhoods.
“The people who have been boxed out for so long, when you can use your position to help poor people, to hire poor people, go do it,” Pfleger said.
Loyalty was one of John Stroger’s most important refrains and he lectured County Board members when he thought they were being disloyal to him or the party. In 1983, when Daley was running for mayor against Harold Washington, John Stroger broke with his friend Washington to back his older friends, the Daleys, who had been loyal to him. Mayor Daley and his brother John, a county commissioner, still express gratitude.
“After I lost the election, he supported Harold Washington,” Mayor Daley said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. That isn’t loyalty. Maybe he believed in someone. That isn’t disloyalty. It’s like after a game you shake someone’s hand.”
Braun said she and John Stroger “would hang out every Friday night at a hotel by where we lived and talk about the good old days and have fish.”
The elder Stroger moved to Chicago in 1953, joining the 3rd Ward organization of Ralph Metcalfe, the Democratic committeeman and future congressman. John Stroger was named Democratic committeeman of the 8th Ward in 1968 and elected to the County Board two years later with the support of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley. John Stroger became board president in 1994.
What would be John Stroger’s final campaign took a tragic turn just one week before the March 2006 primary when he was hospitalized after suffering a stroke that physicians ultimately concluded was “serious” and would prevent him from returning to “a baseline normal state.”
Last month, Todd Stroger talked about his father.
“Life is what it is. You’ve got to deal with it. Hell, Job didn’t complain,” Todd Stroger told the Sun-Times. Seizures stunted his father’s progress, he said.
“There comes a point where the biggest thing is just trying to make sure he’s comfortable,” his son said. “Make sure he’s comfortable. Make sure he doesn’t get sick. That’s about all you can do.”
Visitation is scheduled for Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. at St. Columbanus Church, 7120 S. Calumet Ave.
On Wednesday, viewing will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at St. Felicitas Catholic Church, 1526 E. 84th St. A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m.