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Pioneering Ill. politician Dawn Clark Netsch dies

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO – Dawn Clark Netsch, a pioneer of Illinois politics who helped rewrite the state’s constitution and broke ground as the first woman to run for governor on a major ticket, died Tuesday, just weeks after revealing publicly that she had Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was 86.

Netsch, a former state comptroller and longtime state senator, was the first woman to get the Democratic nomination for governor in Illinois. She died early in the morning at home, said her nephew, Andy Kerr.

She announced in January that she had ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative disorder that weakens the nerves and makes it difficult to walk, swallow and speak, eventually leading to paralysis and death. Near the end of her life Netsch needed assistance to walk.

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