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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.


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Will County outlines plan for infrastructure improvements during R.U.S.H. meeting Nov. 7
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Will County outlines plan for infrastructure improvements during R.U.S.H. meeting Nov. 7

During a meeting of the RUSH (Residents United for Safer Highways) held Thursday night at the New Lenox Village Hall, transportation experts and the Will County Executive’s staff explained plans and ideas to manage heavy truck traffic and improve safety on roadways in the region.

The meeting entitled “2030 and Beyond, the Road to Reality” was led by Scott Slocum from WJOL, who has been a leading voice in this initiative to improve highways across Will County.

Slocum said RUSH began two years ago after a FedEx driver was killed in an accident along I-80.

“We are proud Will County will be receiving $1.2 billion from the state to help improve safety,” he said. “We need a regional plan to improve safety on our highways but also the rural intersections.”

The panelist included Mary Craighead Tyler, transportation analyst with the Illinois Economic Policy Institute; Marc Poulos, Executive Director, Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting; and Nick Palmer, Chief of Staff for Will County Executive Larry Walsh.

Palmer explained the county’s role in planning for infrastructure investments and discussed potential revenue streams for these projects.

“We have an actionable plan that is ready to be implemented in the Friendly Freight Mobility Plan which will establish formal truck routes throughout the county and target future development in areas with existing transportation infrastructure.”

Palmer also explained two other studies under way, the Joliet Intermodal Master Transportation Plan and the CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency on Planning) Will County Truck Routing and Land Use Study.

“The most important issue is we must work together as a region to balance future development with quality of life and safety for our residents.”

Tyler outlined reasons why transportation improvements are necessary citing the growth, past present and future that continue to stress current infrastructure.

“From 2000-2013, Will County experienced a 35 percent growth in population,” Tyler said. “From 2015 to 2015, Will County is projected to grow by 14 percent and by 2050, the growth in Will County is projected at 56 percent. This growth is substantially larger than any region in the state.”

Poulos shared some significant statistics including the fact there are 350,000 drivers in Will County and almost as many registered vehicles. This does not even include the number of trucks that are passing through the county.

“It is important that we take a smart approach to manage our growth,” Poulos said. “We need to work together to become part of the solution.”

Palmer said, “This will be an ongoing conversation but I am confident if we continue to listen to each other and work together we can keep Will County a great place to live, raise a family, and do business.”

Mark Poulos, executive director with the Indiana, Illinois, & Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting; Mary Craighead Tyler, transportation analyst with the Illinois Economic Policy Institute; Nick Palmer, Chief of Staff for Will County Executive Larry Walsh and Scott Slocum, from RUSH and WJOL Radio, participated in Thursday’s meeting. (Photo courtesy of the Will County Executive Office).
 

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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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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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