Chicago Alderman JoAnn Thompson Passes

Deborah Bayliss | 2/11/2015, 1:04 p.m.
Tuesday brought news that Chicago Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th Ward) died Monday night due to heart failure.
Alderman JoAnn Thompson

Tuesday brought news that Chicago Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th Ward) died Monday night due to heart failure.

Ald. Thompson’s Chief of Staff, Debbie Blair, issued the following statement, “It is with heavy hearts that we confirm Alderman JoAnn Thompson passed away yesterday, surrounded by her family, friends, and lots of love from the greater Englewood community which she served with devotion to her final day. JoAnn suffered a sudden heart failure, finally succumbing to a health battle that she fought with the same courage and grace for which she was known and loved throughout her wonderful life. Her family deeply appreciates the kindness and good wishes that have already come from all quarters of our wonderful city and they ask for privacy during this difficult time as they prepare to say a final goodbye to our dear friend JoAnn.”

Thompson, 58, collapsed at the music festival in 2012 that she helped put together in 2008 and was rushed to Rush University Medical Center. 

Elected alderman in 2007, Thompson defeated then-Alderman Shirley Coleman and was re-elected in 2011.

Thompson worked with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in bringing a Whole Foods grocery store to Englewood that will be constructed on a long-vacant 13-acre site at the northwest corner of Halsted and 63rd streets, near Kennedy-King College.

Mayor Emanuel issued the following statement, "With the passing of Alderman JoAnn Thompson, Englewood has lost a tireless advocate and Chicago has lost one of its dearest friends. Alderman Thompson made it her mission to bring jobs, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities to every child and family in Englewood. Her caring spirit and constant smile made JoAnn someone who you wanted to be with and her values defined what it means to build one future as one Chicago. We are saddened by her loss but thankful for the life she lived and the service she gave to our great City of Chicago. Amy (Amy Rule, the mayor’s wife) and I join the entire Chicago family in sending out deepest condolences to JoAnn's own family, her many friends, and her constituents during this difficult time." 

Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th Ward), whose ward includes portions of Englewood, is running for alderman in the 16th Ward. With the remap, the 15th Ward now includes Brighton Park and Back of the Yards neighborhoods, which are both heavily Hispanic.

Ald. Toni Foulkes issued the following statement on Tuesday upon hearing news of the passing of Ald. JoAnn Thompson: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my colleague Ald. Thompson. We worked together as members of the Black Caucus on many important policy initiatives since we were both elected in 2007. I admired her fierce commitment to the constituents and communities of the 16th Ward. My prayers are with Ald. Thompson’s children and grandchildren.”

In addition to Foulkes, Cynthia Lomax, Jose A. Garcia, Stephanie Coleman, daughter of former 16th Ward Ald. Shirley Coleman, are running for the 16th Ward seat.

U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly issued the following statement today in response to Thompson’s passing, “I am deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Alderman JoAnn Thompson. Alderman Thompson’s life was a progression of impassioned battles, beginning with her triumph over her personal struggles and culminating in her determined drive to bring economic opportunity and prosperity to her communities. She was a true public servant who genuinely cared about people and worked hard to improve their lives. My thoughts and prayers are with Alderman Thompson’s children, grandchildren, as well as her devoted friends and co-workers.”

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (Dist.-1st.) released the following statement on Thompson’s passing, “I am saddened to learn of the passing of my colleague, Alderman JoAnn Thompson.  We all knew JoAnn as an outspoken, strong advocate for the people of the 16th Ward.  She rightfully earned her place in the Chicago City Council as a hard working dedicated public servant.  A few months ago, I had the opportunity to discuss with JoAnn the promise of a new Whole Foods store in the heart of the Englewood community.  She expressed an unwavering commitment to ensuring access to quality food and resources for her constituency, whom she represented well.  She will be missed.  I extend my prayers, on behalf of my wife Carolyn and the citizens of the 1st Congressional District to her family, friends and constituents. May God grant them the peace to know that her spirit will live on forever.”