Former Governor James “Big Jim” Thompson Passes at 84

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 15, 2020 at 7:58am

Illinois’s longest serving Governor has passed away.

Former Governor James Thompson died yesterday at the age of 84, according to his wife Jayne.

She says Thompson had been recovering at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago after suffering heart problems a few weeks ago. WGN in Chicago is reporting Thompson had apparently suffered a heart attack.

Thomson served as governor for 14 years, having been elected four times. Known as “Big Jim” to many throughout the state, both for his large personality and stature, standing at 6′ 6” tall.

Current Illinios Governor J.B. Pritzker issued the following statement this morning after learning of the passing of Thompson:

“On behalf of the entire state of Illinois, MK and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of former Governor Jim Thompson. As the longest-serving governor in Illinois history, ‘Big Jim’ 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. He will be remembered and revered as one of the titans in the history of state government.”

Thompson served as Governor from 1977 to 1991, during which time he expanded Illinois’s highway and prison systems, and helped to keep the White Sox in Chicago, as well as pushing for the largest tax hike in Illinois history at the time it was enacted.