Former Cook County Board President John Stroger died today at 8 a.m., nearly two years after suffering a stroke that ended a political career spanning four decades.
"He dedicated his life to his family and gave generously of himself as an elected official. His love for this county knew no bounds and he will be deeply missed,'' said his son Todd, who succeeded his father as board president.
John Stroger suffered a stroke on March 14, 2006, and he had been in hospice care at Warren Barr Pavilion in the city during the days leading up to his death. His condition started worsening last night, close associates said.
His family was by his side Thursday night, said Donna Dunnings, John Stroger's niece.
"My family appreciates all the prayers and support that we've had during this long struggle," said Dunnings, referring to the period since John Stroger's stroke as "a long, tiring process with peaks and valleys throughout."
Dunnings described her uncle as "a caring, giving, loving man," who always put people first.
Dunnings said the family was not with him when he died. Todd Stroger was dropping his children off at daycare at the time, Dunnings said.
Late this morning, workers were putting up purple and black bunting at the County Building in remembrance of John Stroger.
The elder Stroger moved to Chicago in 1953, joining the 3rd Ward organization of Ralph Metcalfe, the Democratic committeeman and future congressman. John Stroger was named Democratic committeeman of the 8th Ward in 1968 and elected to the County Board two years later with the support of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley. He became board president in 1994.
What would be John Stroger's final campaign took a tragic turn just one week before the March 2006 primary when he was hospitalized after suffering a stroke that physicians ultimately concluded was "serious" and would prevent him from returning to "a baseline normal state."
Last month, Todd Stroger talked about his father.
"Life is what it is. You've got to deal with it. Hell, Job didn't complain," Todd Stroger told the Sun-Times. Seizures stunted his father's progress, he said.
"There comes a point where the biggest thing is just trying to make sure he's comfortable," his son said. "Make sure he's comfortable. Make sure he doesn't get sick. That's about all you can do."
Services will be held at St. Felicitas Catholic Church on the South Side. A time has not yet been announced.