Laurence Msall, president of Civic Federation of Chicago, dies at 61

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President of the Civic Federation Laurence Msall in 2019.

Sun-Times file

Laurence Msall, a good-government advocate who drew respect from across the state’s political divides for his sharp eye on government budgeting and pension issues, died Saturday.

He was 61.

Msall, who served as president of the Civic Federation for 21 years, died following complications from surgery, the organization said in a statement.

“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,” the statement read. “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.”

On Saturday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called Msall “one of Chicago’s great civic leaders” and credited him with helping to improve the city’s finances through his advocacy.

“Laurence loved Chicago dearly, and was a fierce defender of good policy for both the City and the rest of our state,” Lightfoot wrote.

Msall joined the Civic Federation in 2002 following after serving as an advisor on economic development for former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, where he was responsible for the oversight of 11 state agencies, including the departments of Commerce and Community Affairs, Revenue and Transportation, according to his biography on the Civic Federation’s website.

He also previously served as an assistant to the director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, where he helped develop policy.

Msall also worked with the nonprofit Commercial Club of Chicago in various roles, including as vice president, working alongside Chicago’s business and political leaders on a range of financial issues facing the city.

He was frequently quoted by reporters at Chicago’s major publications for his keen analyses of government finances.

Msall was born in Evergreen Park, but was a longtime resident of Oak Park.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon called Msall “an intellectual giant of steadfast character and consistency” in a tweet Saturday night.

The Oak Park democrat said he had known Msall since grade school.

A licensed attorney, Msall graduated from Loyola University School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from Knox College in downstate Galesburg, where he was serving on the board of trustees.

He graduated in 1980 from Saint Ignatius College Preparatory High School on the city’s Lower West Side.

A visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday at Salerno’s Galewood Chapel, 1857 N. Harlem Ave. Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Giles Church, 1045 Columbian Ave., Oak Park.

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February 4, 2023 at 08:54PM

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