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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

Music helps Sunny Hill residents remember, elevates moods
Tammy Reiher
/ Categories: News, Press Releases, Home Page

Music helps Sunny Hill residents remember, elevates moods

“Music replays the past memories, awaken our forgotten worlds and make our minds travel.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson

     “Music replays the past memories, awaken our forgotten worlds and make our minds travel.”  ― Michael Bassey Johnson

 

 

JOLIET --  Music can pick you up, bring back memories and get your feet tapping or get you dancing in your seat. In some cases it can help you forget pain.

At Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, residents are using personal “music players,” as they refer to their iPods, for all of those reasons as part of the county-owned facility’s Music and Memory Project.    

Local participation in the national movement was kick-started in large part by a more than $5,000 donation from KSKJ, the American Slovenian Catholic Union, Lodge No. 2, which held a fund-raiser in May 2015 to benefit the program.

     “It’s the most rewarding thing ever,” said Kristine Smith of the Social Services Department, who oversees the program, working with residents and their families over several days to choose the music that will mean the most to the listener. “If they’re able, they tell me what songs they like.”

The pathways in the brain that remember music are the last ones to wither; researchers have found even people with dementia will perk up after listening to music from their past, often remembering – at least temporarily – people and feelings they otherwise can’t recall.

Smith said 10 residents currently have the iPods with headphones. Some residents have asked for it; others have been recommended by the staff. “We use it a lot for mood.” If a resident is depressed or bored, music can help.

     “Once it’s loaded, it’s all theirs. They can listen to it any time they want to.”

Three shared their stories about how music keeps them moving to their own beat.

 

Dorothy Kovach

 

Dorothy Kovach, 93, grew up in Chicago and most recently before coming to Sunny Hill had lived with her daughter, Susan Kovach, in Joliet. With generations of musicians in the family, she’d grown up with the sounds of classical music.

    “My family is full of music,” said Kovach, herself a pianist in her younger days. “I was so hungry for my music.”

She said she no longer remembers composers or song titles, but the music brings back the feelings.

     “I’m in seventh heaven when I’ve got classical music going,” she said.

Kovach gave a big sigh, nodding along to the music, and smiled as she listened.

    “When (music has) been so much a part of your life, you miss it.”

 

Ray Mirelez

 

Ray Mirelez, 77, of Joliet has been a Sunny Hill resident for a little more than a year. He’d been there about three months when he saw other residents with the iPods and asked how to get one.

     “I have all these CDs, but no CD player,” he said.

    His music player is loaded with country music. “I thought that was the only kind (of music),” he said. “I’m a hillbilly from Oklahoma.”

Not just any country music, he said, the old country music, like Merle Haggard.

    “I don’t really have a favorite singer. It’s the songs.

He and Smith went through his CD collection, picking out his favorite tunes. He listens every day.

    “Some songs bring back memories – some good, some bad. (Listening) picks me up.”

 

Connie Nuzzo

 

Connie Nuzzo, 83, grew up in Chicago and came to Sunny Hill thanks to a brother in Frankfort.

    “I like Big Band (music),” said Nusso. “I grew up with that. I don’t like the music of today; it’s jumping around music.”

Judy Garland, Doris Day, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis are some of her favorite singers and, oh, yes, Johnny Mathis.

She’s been to many Mathis performances, “He gives a real long concert.”

She loved going to concerts, and also saw Judy Garland and the King himself, Elvis Presley. Every few months, she asks Smith to change some of the singers. She listens every day and sometimes into the night.

Nuzzo uses the music to combat the sadness she sometimes feels. When she moved to Sunny Hill, she could walk. Now she is in a wheelchair.

She also finds music is almost as good as medication to fight the pain of the neuropathy in her legs.

Smith said she has seen Nuzzo, in severe pain and two hours to go before her next pill, put her headphones on and forget the throbbing until she can get her medication.  

Their iPod playlist “is definitely a work in progress,” Smith said. “It’s real exciting for (the residents).”

Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, 421 Doris Ave., is led by Administrator Karen Isberg Sorbero and is under the office of Will County Executive Larry Walsh.

 

 

FYI

 

For more information, go to www.willcountyillinois.com and look for Sunny Hill. Sunny Hill is also on Facebook.

To help, donations of new or gently used iPods, as well as iTunes gift cards are accepted. Cash donations should be directed to The Friends of Sunny Hill Inc.

To learn about the Music and Memory program, go to http://musicandmemory.org/

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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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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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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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