X
GO

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

Will County participates in Governor Rauner’s Opioid Task Force listening tour
Anastasia Tuskey

Will County participates in Governor Rauner’s Opioid Task Force listening tour

     Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah co-chaired a public hearing by the Governor’s Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force Wednesday in Chicago. The task force is visiting communities across the state in search of information and partners to further the state’s Opioid Action Plan in response to the state’s escalating opioid overdose epidemic. Will County’s Director of Substance Use Initiatives Dr. Kathleen Burke was invited to be part of a panel to discuss the county’s response efforts.

     “The opioid epidemic knows no neighborhood, no color, and no class,” Sanguinetti said. “We are traveling the state to collect research and hear stories of those impacted by this growing opioid overdose epidemic so we can take action and save lives.”

     “I applaud the Lieutenant Governor for leading these important hearings to learn how this epidemic is affecting all parts of our state and what we are doing locally to fight opioid abuse,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “We have been addressing this issue for some time and it is nice to be recognized for our efforts by the governor’s office. We are fortunate to have Dr. Burke leading our efforts in Will County.”

     The task force members heard testimony from experts in four key groups involved in this issue: personal stories, law enforcement, health care and behavioral health providers, and local response. The goal of the Opioid Action Plan is to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths by one-third in three years. Burke shared information about the county’s efforts including expanded Narcan training and Safe Passage participants.

     “The message from many of these groups was the lack of access to treatment,” Burke said. “These testimonies were powerful and clearly identified the gaps in service dealing with the opioid epidemic in our state. We have Narcan which is keeping people from dying from overdose and we have the Safe Passage program with our police departments to directly connect people to treatment, but we have to increase our capacity to save lives. Addiction is a medical disease that requires medical treatment and we do not have enough beds to offer people detox services and treatment.”

     Burke cited studies which have shown in-patient treatment is the most effective manner to treat opioid addiction. She described how opioids “rewire” a person’s brain which intensifies the cravings and makes treatment difficult.

     “Opioids hijack the pleasure-seeking portion of the brain,” she said. “So treating a person’s addiction is a medical process, not just making changes in one’s behavior. People need access to medically-assisted treatment to manage their cravings and learn to live a healthy life in recovery.”

 

     Some of the other panelists included John Roberts, co-founder of the HERO group and a partner in Will County efforts, Chief of Mundelein Police Eric Guenther, and Dr. Michael Nelson, emergency medicine and addiction physician at Cook County Health and Hospitals System. Each gave unique presentations about their efforts but the underlying message was the need for increased access to treatment.

     Shah added, “We are learning what resources are available in different communities. It will take all of us, in all capacities to end this crisis.”

     “We are all working to keep people suffering from an addiction from dying from an overdose, access treatment, and offer community support services for long term recovery,” said Burke. “It was encouraging to hear from the many experts across various fields. My hope is we can collaborate and use our specific resources to find ways to end overdose deaths and expand addiction treatment.”

Captions: – Dr. Kathleen Burke, Will County Director of Substance Use Initiatives, (left) participated on a panel about the local response to the opioid overdose epidemic. She was joined by Dr. Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar, medical director for behavioral health with the Chicago Public Health Department, Brian Rowland, the CEO of Safe Haven, and Dr. Richard Jorgensen, DuPage County Coroner. (Photo courtesy of the Will County Executive Office)

 

Previous Article Will County offers residents spay/neuter discount for pets in October
Next Article WCWC releases November workshop schedule
Print
3549
 

 

Tribute to Will County Executive Larry Walsh
Senator Dick Durbin (D, IL) pays tribute to the life and service of Larry Walsh Sr.

facebook   twitter   Linked In       Youtube

 

Employment Opportunities

Upcoming Events

«July 2020»
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2829301

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.

Read more
2

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.

Read more
34
56789

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.

Read more
1011
12131415
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.

Read more
1617
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.

Read more
18
19202122232425
2627282930311
2345

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.

Read more
6

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.

Read more
78

Upcoming events Events RSSiCalendar export

View Full Calendar