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Will County Executive Larry Walsh loses battle to cancer; leaves long career in public service and unique legacy behind

Will County Executive Larry Walsh

WILL COUNTY - Lawrence M. “Larry” Walsh, a loving husband, proud father and grandfather, faithful farmer, dedicated public servant, and lifelong Will County resident, died Wednesday evening at his home in Elwood, Illinois.  He was 72.

Walsh battled complications of prostate cancer for more than five years.  He was first treated for prostate cancer in late 2014 and continued to receive medical care in the following years.  In late 2018, he again began chemotherapy treatments for a reoccurrence of the cancer.  Walsh was a strong supporter of cancer research and a proud participant of the annual Will County Relay for Life.  He always encouraged others to get screened for cancer to obtain early detections of this disease.

Known for his strong commitment to serving his community, Walsh began his public service at age 21 on the Elwood School Board, which he followed ­as the Jackson Township Supervisor, a Will County Board member, an Illinois State Senator, and culminating as the Will County Executive, first being elected in 2004.  Walsh was the longest-serving County Executive and led the fourth largest county in the State of Illinois.

Walsh and his wife, Irene, are loving parents of six children and 20 grandchildren and have numerous extended family members who formed a strong network of service to their communities for many years.  Walsh always acknowledged the love and support he received from his wonderful family during his years of political life. 

Respected for his bipartisan approach at every level of government he served, Walsh prided himself in working collaboratively to find solutions to the challenges that were faced.  His longest tenure has been as County Executive where Will County built a strong financial foundation that improved the County’s bond rating.  That success led to the largest capital improvements campaign in the county’s history and sustained investments in roads and bridge infrastructure.  This campaign included a new Public Safety Complex and consolidated 911 dispatch center, a new County Health department facility, and a new Courthouse.

Sentiments from his peers are flowing in, noting his commitment to the residents of Will County and more than 50 years of public service.

“Larry’s passing is a tremendous loss to his family, certainly, but also to the community,” said Denise Winfrey, Speaker of the Will County Board.   “He dedicated his life to service. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with him and learn from him. He touched numerous lives, forged alliances, and reached out to work with people from all walks of life. The work he has done speaks for him. Rest in peace Larry, job well done.”

County Board member Jim Moustis and Walsh began a friendship back in 1992 when they served together on the County Board.

“Larry loved Will County and being the County Executive,” said Moustis.  “He always wanted the best for the people of Will County and was a true leader.  I will sadly miss him and have had great respect for him, despite our differences at times.” 

Longtime Chief of Staff Nick Palmer worked with Walsh for many years, both in the State Senate and in Will County. He said Walsh is a perfect example of a public servant.

“Larry cared about the residents he served and never wanted to say no to a request for help. Larry is a one of a kind guy who always had a hearty laugh and smile for those he interacted with, no matter a person’s place in life.  He knew the cleaning crew and he knew the President of the United States Barack Obama.  He loved them all and always talked about the friendships he had made throughout his life in Will County.  His passing has left a huge void in this community and I will truly miss his friendship.”

Arrangements for Executive Larry Walsh will be announced once they become available.


What's Happening in Will County

County officials break ground on another capital project
Anastasia Tuskey
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County officials break ground on another capital project

New Animal Control Office and EMA garage to be built near Public Safety Complex

On a blustery April day, officials from Will County gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new Animal Control office and a garage for Emergency Management Agency vehicles to be located just south of the Public Safety Complex.

“This has become quite a familiar event in Will County as we are here today to break ground for yet another building in the largest capital campaign in our county’s history,” said County Executive Larry Walsh. “The new animal control facility will enable this department to continue to provide quality services to pets and their owners in our county and the new EMA garage will protect the significant investments we have made in these important vehicles. These facilities will help enhance public safety in our county.”

The Animal Control building will be nearly 6,700 square feet and will contain the administrative offices and garages for the department’s vehicles. The EMA vehicle storage and training center is more than 11,000 square feet and will house the Mobile Command Vehicle and other vehicles used in emergency situations and will also be used for emergency training exercises.

“After more than 20 years of leasing office space, the Animal Control department will now have a modern building designed for the purposes of our office,” said Dr. Michele Roessler, deputy administrator for the Animal Control department who also emcee’d the groundbreaking event. “I am proud of all of our staff members who work hard to provide important services to the pets and people residing in Will County.”

“This is indeed another great day for Will County,” said Will County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey. “We are building for the future of Will County and our residents.”

In addition to this project, work is also progressing on the county courthouse and a new health department. County officials estimate these projects have created 500 full time, temporary union construction jobs.

“This is an exciting time in Will County with all of these capital projects going on,” said Herb Brooks, Jr., chairman of the County Board Capital Improvements Committee. “And soon we will be celebrating ribbon cuttings on these remarkable buildings.”

From left to right: Will County Board Capital Improvements Committee Chair Herb Brooks, Jr., Will County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey, Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Animal Control Deputy Administrator Dr. Michele Roessler, and Will County EMA Director Harold Damron celebrated the groundbreaking of the county’s new animal control facility and EMA garage on Tuesday, April 2. These projects are part of the largest capital campaign in the history of Will County which includes the completed Public Safety Complex, a new county courthouse, and a new health department building.
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Tribute to Will County Executive Larry Walsh
Senator Dick Durbin (D, IL) pays tribute to the life and service of Larry Walsh Sr.

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Executive Committee - 10 a.m.

Meetings will be held in the County Board Committee Room in the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet, Illinois, unless stated otherwise. Meeting agendas and cancellations are available on the website www.willcountyboard.com. To contact us, e-mail: countyboard@willcountyillinois.com or phone 815.740.4602.

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Expanded Will County textile, shoe collection set for July 13-17

Expanded Will County textile, shoe collection set for July 13-17

Will County’s annual textile and shoe collection event, usually held in May, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 13, through Friday, July 17, at the County Office Building.

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Expanded Will County textile, shoe collection set for July 13-17

Expanded Will County textile, shoe collection set for July 13-17

Will County’s annual textile and shoe collection event, usually held in May, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 13, through Friday, July 17, at the County Office Building.

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Public Health & Safety Committee - 10:00 a.m.

Meetings will be held in the County Board Committee Room in the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet, Illinois, unless stated otherwise. Meeting agendas and cancellations are available on the website www.willcountyboard.com. To contact us, email: countyboard@willcountyillinois.com or phone: 815.740.4602.

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Executive Committee - 10 a.m.

Meetings will be held in the County Board Committee Room in the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet, Illinois, unless stated otherwise. Meeting agendas and cancellations are available on the website www.willcountyboard.com. To contact us, e-mail: countyboard@willcountyillinois.com or phone 815.740.4602.

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