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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

Will County Safe Passage Initiative
Anastasia Tuskey
/ Categories: News, Press Releases, Home Page

Will County Safe Passage Initiative

New program to connect opiate users with treatment

     The Will County Executive’s Office is pleased to announce the launch of the Will County Safe Passage Initiative, another critical strategy to reduce the number of heroin deaths in the county. The Mokena Police Department, the Lockport Police Department, the Lemont Police Department, A Man in Recovery Foundation, and Strategic Prevention are working together to establish the Safe Passage Initiative that will connect opiate users with treatment providers.

     Through the Will County Safe Passage Initiative, any resident who is fighting an opiate addiction can go to one of these police departments and ask for help. The individual will be connected with a volunteer from A Man in Recovery Foundation who will escort the person to a DASA-accredited treatment center. The Safe Passage Initiative will offer assistance to any resident suffering from an addiction to opiates or prescription drugs. The program is being piloted through the Mokena, Lockport, and Lemont police departments. Dr. Kathleen Burke with Strategic Prevention is coordinating the program on behalf of the County Executive’s office.

 

     “I applaud Chief Vaccaro (Mokena), Chief Lemming (Lockport), and Chief Maton (Lemont) for leading this initiative,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “Heroin is deadlier than ever. We will continue our efforts to educate our children about the dangers of opioids and train our law enforcement officials on how to use Narcan to save lives. This program will be another important tool in this critical fight to reduce opioid deaths in Will County.”

          Vaccaro, Lemming, and Maton have seen firsthand the effects of substance abuse in their communities. All of these chiefs are proud to lead the initiative to offer this program as another avenue to help those battling opiate addiction.

     “As law enforcement officials, we have learned we cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Vaccaro said. “In Mokena, we are proud to work with the county to establish this Safe Passage program. We want to help people dealing with the disease of addiction, not lock them up.”

     Lemming agrees and understands the impact on drug addiction on an entire community.                                                                                    

       “Just as night follows day, violence and property crimes follow drug use, availability, and abuse,” said Lemming. “This program provides immediate access to treatment for anyone seeking it. We should see crime rates going down when help is provided.”

    “The face of a drug abuser has changed dramatically over the past ten years,” Maton said. “It can be the boy or girl next door. It can be a family member. Almost everyone knows someone who is battling this disease of addiction.”

     Plans are to expand this initiative to all police departments within Will County by the end of the year.

     Any resident who is dealing with drug addiction can go into the Mokena Police Department (708) 479-3911, the Lockport Police Department (815) 838-2132, or the Lemont Police Department (630) 257-2229 during department hours and ask for help. A law enforcement official will connect the individual with a volunteer from the A Man in Recovery Foundation who will come to the police department and escort the individual directly to a pre-arranged treatment location.

     For more information on this program, contact the Will County Executive’s Office at

(815) 722-5515.

    

 

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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.

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.

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