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Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough dies  at 73.

BlogCook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough dies  at 73.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, who was recently hospitalized for a serious medical condition, has died. She was 73.
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough has died after she was hospitalized last week with an undisclosed medical condition, one of her top aides confirms. She was 73.

In a statement last week, Yarbrough’s office confirmed she was being treated for a “serious medical condition” but did not provide any further details on the illness.

Her office would only say she was surrounded by her husband and family when she passed away peacefully Sunday afternoon.
Yarbrough passed away Sunday afternoon, according to Sally Daly, deputy clerk of communications for the clerk’s office.

She had been hospitalized and was undergoing treatment for a medical condition Daly described last week as being serious without disclosing details.

The Maywood Democrat was the first Black person and first woman to serve as Cook County clerk. She served in elected office for more than two decades, including as the Cook County recorder of deeds and as a state representative.

Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs said Yarbrough was a “towering figure” in the Democratic Party.

“Clerk Yarbrough was a trailblazer who broke barriers, including serving as the first female and the first African American Cook County clerk,” Frerichs said in a statement on X. “My thoughts are with her family during this difficult time, and I grieve the loss of a dedicated public servant.”
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough has died, according to a spokesperson for the county. She was 73.

Yarbrough, 73, has been hospitalized due to a “serious medical condition.”

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough hospitalized in critical condition
She was married to her husband, Henderson, and together they had a blended family of six and shared 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Yarbrough, the first African American and woman to serve as clerk in Cook County, was elected in 2018.

The clerk’s office is responsible for several things, including birth, marriage, civil union and death certificates, maintaining delinquent tax records, tax maps, preparing board agendas, post-meeting minutes and official county records.

The office is also in charge of the county’s Veteran’s Services Division.

Before she was elected as Cook County Clerk, Yarbrough was the county’s Recorder of Deeds and a state representative.

She received a bachelor of arts in Business Management from Chicago State University, a masters in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University, a certificate in public leadership from Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and completed advanced leadership studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Illinois leaders react to news of Yarbrough’s death
It is with profound sadness that the Cook County Clerk’s Office announces the death of Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough, a beloved leader and dedicated public servant who was serving her second term as the elected Clerk of Cook County at the time of her passing.

Clerk Yarbrough passed away peacefully Sunday afternoon surrounded by her husband and family after being hospitalized last week.

“We have lost one of the brightest lights in the public service arena in Cook County and the State of Illinois and we will never be quite the same,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Cedric Giles.

“Clerk Yarbrough brought a unique spirit, energy, and compassion to her role in public service, and she used those gifts to bring out the best in all of us. She will be missed beyond measure.”

Clerk Yarbrough and her husband Henderson were longtime Maywood residents and active members of their community. Her family released the following statement:

“Karen Yarbrough was a wife, mother, sister, aunt and mentor to everyone who met her. So many of us stand on her shoulders and are actively walking pathways that she forged. As a public servant, she had the courage to stand in support of issues that were not always popular, but she knew them to be right.

She was a champion of women’s rights and a defender of the underprivileged and she touched so many people’s lives for the better. Proud is too small a word for what it means to have someone like her as part of our family.”

During her tenure as Clerk, Yarbrough is credited with implementing sweeping changes throughout the office including a complete modernization of election voting equipment and enhancements to the entire voting process for suburban voters.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, she successfully managed a first-of-its kind government consolidation by assuming all duties of the former Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office into the operations of the Clerk’s Office.

“The Clerk’s steadfast commitment to accuracy, efficiency, advocacy and cybersecurity resulted in groundbreaking initiatives in programming and technology that will have a constructive impact on the operations of the Clerk’s Office for generations to come,” said Giles.

When she was elected in 2018, Karen Yarbrough became the first woman and the first African American to serve as Cook County Clerk.

COOK COUNTY CLERK’S OFFICE
On behalf of the City of Chicago, I am sending my heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough. . Her passion for ensuring that communities experience the full support of their governing bodies and benefit from the fruits of our democracy will truly be missed, as will her radiant smile.

Karen Yarbrough forged a path for officials like myself and many others, and my administration is keeping her memory and her family in our hearts during this difficult time.

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