Known as a Republican powerhouse in McHenry County and Illinois politics for decades, Albert Jourdan Jr. is remembered as a genuine friend, a trusted mentor and a well-respected politician.
As former county auditor and GOP chairman, he had a hand in shaping McHenry County during one of its most robust periods, said friend and former state Rep. Mike Tryon. Also active in state politics, he served as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, had significant influence in statewide elections and was recognized by politicians nationwide.
Jourdan, a Johnsburg resident, died Saturday at Centegra Hospital-McHenry. He was 82.
"His politics were honest politics. He accepted people for who they were and gave them advice," Tryon said. "He was, to me, everything good that a mentor could be. He truly will be missed in the minds and hearts of the people who knew him."
Jourdan, who first became a McHenry Township precinct committeeman in 1961, served as chairman of the county's Republican party from 1968 to 1998.
He spent 25 years as county auditor starting in 1972 and led the state's Republican party from 1991 to 1993.
Tryon, also a former county board chairman, said Jourdan exemplified hard work in all aspects of his life. He kept McHenry County financially stable while it was going through a period of significant growth starting in the 1970s, he said. Passionate about keeping the county competitive for economic development, Jourdan also tried obtaining funding to push forward road and infrastructure projects even after he left his auditor position.
At the state level, Tryon said, Jourdan was active during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush eras. He later served on the board of the Regional Transportation Authority from 2008 to 2013.
Jourdan, who believed in a market-driven economy, had a "great mind" for public policy, Tryon said, and politicians would often seek his input regardless of their party. He served as a political consultant for state and county candidates and project leaders in recent years.
"His political resume was extensive on what he did," Tryon said. "Even people who didn't agree with him politically had tremendous respect for him. That says a lot about a person."
Outside the political scene, Jourdan was also involved in several community organizations, including the Johnsburg Community Club and the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club. Until 1970, he worked as a general manager at his family's Chicago meatpacking business, Jourdan Packing House.
Although Jourdan always seemed to remember the details about a friend's family or hobbies, Tryon recalled, he kept his own personal life private and put his family first. He was a Green Bay Packers and Chicago White Sox fan, and he enjoyed boating and spending time outdoors with his family.
Jourdan is survived by his wife of 62 years, Carolyn; a daughter, Debra; a son, Albert III; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
"He truly was just a genuine person," Tryon said. "He was a powerhouse, there's no question. But he had great respect from everybody."
A visitation is scheduled 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Justen Funeral Home and Crematory, 3700 Charles J. Miller Road, McHenry. The visitation will resume at 10 a.m. Friday before a 10:30 a.m. funeral service at the funeral home.
Donations can be made to the Al Jourdan Scholarship Fund at the Johnsburg Community Club, 2315 W. Church St.