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Judy Baar Topinka
Judy Baar Topinka CoI official F4912D2E-1CC1-DE6E-2F48721070FAD266 180x180.jpg
7th Comptroller of Illinois
In office
January 10, 2011 – December 10, 2014
Governor Pat Quinn
Preceded by Daniel Hynes
Succeeded by Jerry Stermer
71st Treasurer of Illinois
In office
January 9, 1995 – January 8, 2007
Governor Jim Edgar
George Ryan
Rod Blagojevich
Preceded by Pat Quinn
Succeeded by Alexi Giannoulias
Personal details
Judy Baar

(1944-01-16)January 16, 1944
Riverside, Illinois, US
Died December 10, 2014(2014-12-10) (aged 70)
Berwyn, Illinois, US
Political party Republican
Education Northwestern University (BA)

Judy Baar Topinka (January 16, 1944 – December 10, 2014) was an American politician and member of the Republican Party from the U.S. State of Illinois.

Although originally a journalist, Topinka served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1981 to 1985 and in the Illinois Senate from 1985 to 1995. She was elected to three terms as Illinois State Treasurer, serving from 1995 to 2007.

She was the first woman to become state treasurer, the first to be elected to three consecutive terms, and the first Republican to hold the post in more than 32 years. During her last term as treasurer, she was the only Republican to hold statewide elected office in Illinois. In 2002, she was elected chair of the Illinois Republican Party, holding that office until 2005.

She declined to run for re-election as treasurer in 2006, instead running for Governor of Illinois. In March 2006, she was nominated as the Republican candidate. She was the second woman (after 1994 Democratic nominee Dawn Clark Netsch) and first Republican woman to be nominated for governor of Illinois. She went on to lose the election to Democratic incumbent Rod Blagojevich.

In 2010, she successfully ran for the office of Illinois Comptroller. She was re-elected to a second four-year term in November 2014, however later died of a stroke in December 2014.

Early years

Topinka was born in the Chicago, Illinois, suburb of Riverside to Lillian Mary (Shuss) and William D. Baar, the children of Czech and Slovak immigrants. After graduating from Ferry Hall School in Lake Forest in 1962, she attended Northwestern University in nearby Evanston. Topinka received a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the university's Medill School of Journalism. She was a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

After graduating from Northwestern, Topinka became a reporter for several suburban Chicago newspapers, eventually becoming an editor. On the side, Topinka established her own public relations business, through which she began a career in consulting for various political candidates.

Personal life and death

In 1965, she married Joe Topinka. They had a son before divorcing in 1981.

Topinka was a member of the Illinois St. Andrew Society and attended multiple events for it throughout the year. She could play four instruments and could fluently speak four languages, English, Czech, Spanish and Polish.

Topinka reported discomfort on December 9, 2014, and was admitted to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, a western suburb of Chicago. After undergoing tests, she appeared to be doing well. However, overnight she suddenly lost consciousness and was pronounced dead shortly after 2 a.m. on December 10.

President Barack Obama referred to Topinka as "an institution in Illinois politics", citing her service in a statement from the White House. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said it was a "sad day in the state of Illinois", calling her "a trailblazer in every sense of the word".

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