George Ryan with his wife when she died

June 28, 2011

Sam Hudzik

(AP/File)

An attorney for George Ryan says the imprisoned former Illinois governor was with his wife when she died Monday. Lura Lynn Ryan was 76 years old and has battled lung cancer.

James Thompson, himself a former Illinois governor and an attorney for Ryan, said that prison officials allowed Ryan to visit his wife for about six hours Monday night at a Kankakee hospital.

"After he arrived, the family got together and decided that they would remove her from the respirator, because nothing more could be done for her," Thompson said Tuesday. "That was the judgment of the doctors."

Thompson said this was the fourth visit Ryan has been allowed to make this year. That's a consolation of sorts after a federal court ruled it would not shorten Ryan's sentence. He is not scheduled to be released until the summer of 2013.

Ryan will ask the prison to release him again for funeral services, which Thompson said will be for family only.

Lura Lynn Ryan served as Illinois' first lady from 1999 to 2003, and is being remembered for taking great pride in that role.

"She seemed to be the softer side of the George Ryan administration," state Treasurer Dan Rutherford said Tuesday.  "I remember working with her on a project where she put together the history of the first ladies of the state of Illinois and the executive mansion. And that was a very important thing from a historical standpoint of the state and for tourism."

Rutherford said he met Mrs. Ryan over thirty years ago, and they became friends. He said she stood by her husband during the high moments of his political career, and the low moments of his legal battle.