Jim Thompson Jr., 84, Longtime governor of Illinois (LEGACY.COM/AP PHOTO FILE)

James Robert Thompson Jr., 84, the longest-serving governor in Illinois history, died in Chicago on Aug. 14, 2020 of heart failure. Born on the West Side of Chicago on May 8, 1936, the son of J. Robert and Agnes (Swanson) Thompson, he had a number of Oak Park connections. 

His parents, who had moved from DeKalb County to Garfield Park to be near Bethany Hospital, where Dr. Thompson worked, moved to 1129 N. Elmwood Ave. in Oak Park in 1956. Jim Thompson lived at home until the early 1960s while he finished law school. During an interview with Wednesday Journal in 2005 after his mother died, he recalled delivering the Austinite and Oak Leaves newspapers in the 1950s.

His wife Jayne (Carr) grew up in Oak Park and graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School. His two brothers and his sister attended Oak Park schools.

After his father died in 1992, his mother moved into Holley Court Terrace (now Brookdale) and lived there until her death. 

Thompson served as Illinois governor from 1976 to 1991.

He is survived by his wife and a daughter, Samantha. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

Join the discussion on social media!