Richard Calica, the former director of Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services has died from cancer -- just a month after he had resigned for health reasons. He was 67.
His wife, Judy Calica, said Monday from the couple's Highland Park home that her husband died Sunday.
"He was the funniest, smartest, sweetest, handsomest man I'd ever met," she said. "And he just got better with time."
Calica had held the top post at the agency since December 2011. When he resigned in November, he said in a statement that his work there had been "the most exciting and rewarding time of my career in child welfare."
Before taking the helm at the state agency, Calica was the executive director for decades of the Chicago-based Juvenile Protective Association.
One of the reasons Judy Calica and her husband were both so passionate about social work was because they had given their own child a good start in life as parents, she said Monday.
"We wanted no less for all children in Illinois. That was our mission," she said.
In a Monday statement, Gov. Pat Quinn expressed his condolences to Calica's family and called Richard Calica "a dedicated advocate for our most vulnerable children."
Said Quinn, "He always put their safety and well-being first."