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Tributes pour in for Laurence Msall, government finance expert and NPR Illinois advisory board member

Laurence J. Msall headshot
Laurence Msall
Laurence Msall

Laurence Msall spent his career calling for fiscal responsibility. After his death on Saturday, those from across Illinois’ political spectrum praised his efforts.

Msall, 61, died following complications from surgery, according to a statement from the Civic Federation based in Chicago, where he has served as president for 21 years.

“Laurence’s contributions to the Civic Federation were immeasurable and his sudden passing comes as a devastating blow to members of the Civic Federation family,” read the statement. “While Laurence was the Civic Federation to so many in the community, his real legacy was in helping to make the Civic Federation the indispensable voice for fiscal responsibility throughout the state of Illinois and that mission will go on through the outstanding staff that Laurence developed.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot called him “one of Chicago’s great civic leaders” and a kind and generous man. “Laurence loved Chicago dearly, and was a fierce defender of good policy for both the City and the rest of our state,” Lightfoot said.

Msall joined the Civic Federation after serving as an economic development adviser under former Gov. George Ryan. He previously worked as an assistant to the director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs.

“He served our state proudly under Governors Ryan and Thompson and will be remembered for his advocacy in confronting complex policy challenges," said Gov. JB Pritzker.

"Laurence was a guy who loved Illinois and worked to really understand the details of public policy," tweeted former Rep. Tom Demmer, a Republican. "We’ll all miss him and his important contributions to our democracy."

A Chicago area native, he called Oak Park home for many years. He was a licensed attorney who graduated from Loyola University School of Law. Msall completed his undergraduate degree from Knox College in Galesburg.

Msall worked with several groups and served on a variety of boards, including the NPR Illinois Community Advisory Board.

“Such a loss for good government,” said Randy Eccles, NPR Illinois General Manager. “Through his years on the Illinois Issues and NPR Illinois Community Advisory Boards, he kept us focused on how to make government serve citizens better. During the multi-year budget impasse, Laurence was the first and most adamant to point out the negative impact it was having for people and organizations across the state. We will all miss his counsel.”

Senate President Don Harmon of Oak Park, who knew Msall since grade school, called him a “friend, mentor and sounding board for many issues and decisions.”

I will always remember his voice, vision and unparalleled integrity. My heart goes out to his family and friends”, Harmon wrote.

Funeral services are planned for Wednesday at St. Giles Church in Oak Park.

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