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Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood Dies After Cancer Battle

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NPR Illinois
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Corinne Wood's election in 1998 was historic.  She was the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor in the state's history.  Wood died Tuesday, just days before she would have turned 67.  

Her tenure included a focus on women's health, including breast cancer.  Wood was first diagnosed in the 90s.   

"This issue is important to me for both policy and personal reasons.  As a breast cancer survivor, I want other women to have the same health care opportunities I had," Wood said in a 1999 interview.  Her work included the effort to create an income tax checkoff to bring more funding to breast cancer research.

Wood was also aware of her role in helping to chip away further at the political glass ceiling.  "I recommend (women) get involved in issues important to them.  Whether it's a school board or a charitable organization," she said. "Don't wait for someone to ask you. Take the initiative."

An attorney, Wood served in the Illinois House before being tabbed to be George Ryan's running mate.  Her selection was considrered as a way to balance the ticket,  Wood supported abortion rights and was considered more moderate than Ryan on social issues heading into the campaign. 

The often forgotten about role of lieutenant governor took on more importance.  George Ryan was under investigation for a licenses for bribes scheme from his time as Secretary of State and speculation grew that Wood might have to take over the top job in state government. It didn't happen.  

After Ryan announced he would not seek another term as the scandal swirled around him, Wood ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2002.  Her ties to the unpopular governor hurt her chances and she lost to Attorney General Jim Ryan, eventually paving the way for the election of Democrat Rod Blagojevich. 

Wood's cancer returned in 2006 and she started treatment again.  She continued to be an outspoken advocate for women suffering from the disease.  

Among those paying tribute on the news of Wood's death was the current Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.   "She was a trailblazer bringing her authentic self to the office and elevating the issue of women’s health. She paved the way for women like me to serve in this role. My husband Bryan and I send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to the family," wrote Stratton. 

Wood, who was born in Barrington, attended the Unviersity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Loyola University Law School.  She was also a longtime member of the NPR Illinois and Illinois Issues Community Advisory Board and worked with many other organizations. 

She is survived by her husband and three children. 

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