Daily Herald columnist Paul Green recalled as 'Chicago political legend'

Civic leaders, scholars and political heavyweights are mourning the death of Paul Michael Green, frequent Daily Herald columnist, professor of public administration and longtime expert on the political scene in Chicago and across the state.

Green, 73, died Saturday from cardiac arrest as a result of an aortic aneurysm.

Green most recently appeared in the Daily Herald when he provided analysis during the Democratic and Republican national conventions in July.

"Paul was part of a distinctive breed of Chicago political thinkers whose work was built on a deep historical knowledge of the city's and the state's political foundations. He saw trends and connections that no other political writer recognized, and, whether through writing or in a public address, he presented them with a sense of humor that was at once incisive and delightful," said Daily Herald Assistant Managing Editor/Opinion Jim Slusher,

"The Daily Herald had the honor to carry his commentaries for many years, and they always added a unique flavor to the discussion of political issues in Chicago and statewide. We're saddened by his loss and we'll greatly miss not only his work but the pleasure of working with him."

Green, who grew up in Chicago, was an outspoken critic of the state's budget crisis, his wife of 47 years, Sharon, said.

"Nobody likes to hear the bad news," she said. "But he gives the numbers."

On Sunday, tributes came from such leaders as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who, in a prepared statement, called Green "a Chicago political legend" and said he was "always impressed by his capacious intellect, his boundless curiosity and his quick wit."

Emanuel said Green's work as director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University, where Green also was a professor of public administration, "inspired a new generation of Chicagoans to answer the call of public service."

Politics were food and drink to Green, who liberally shared the vast riches of his knowledge through his writings, speeches and radio commentary.

"He loved government, he loved the city, he loved urban history, political history, public administration," said Sharon Green. "He knew the numbers. He knew the facts. But he appreciated politics. He understood the good and the bad of politics."

His book "The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition," co-authored with Melvin G. Holli, is regarded as a classic.

News consumers also know him from his work as a political analyst for WGN Radio and as a guest columnist Crain's Chicago Business.

His opinions have appeared in such publications as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

As an academic, he worked at Roosevelt University and Governors State University and also lectured at universities in Europe, Asia and Africa.

He even entered the political fray himself, serving from 1977 to 1983 as Monee Township supervisor.

Green, who received his bachelor's in history and political science from the University of Illinois and his master's and doctorate from the University of Chicago, was active as chairman of the board for the City Club of Chicago, a public affairs forum.

Jay Doherty, City Club president, said Green was active to the end, officiating at a City Club Public Policy Forum as recently as Wednesday and even sending emails on Saturday about future programs.

"He has really been the catalyst to take the City Club from a couple hundred members to over 2,000 members now," Doherty said.

He said Green was responsible for expanding the club's focus from Chicago to the state and even the national political stage. Donald Trump spoke to the group around the time he announced he would run for president.

Bonnie Gunzenhauser, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Roosevelt, said those at the school "know him as such a dedicated teacher and such a strong supporter of his students, as a mentor to his junior colleagues."

She said he kept an open door between the classroom and the community. Barack Obama spoke to his class in 2002.

In addition to his accomplishments, Green was a devoted family man.

"We met on a campaign. What else?" his wife said.

Green is survived by his wife and his daughter Sarah, who lives in California and teaches dance to children. A son, Robert, a choral director at Fremd High School, died in 2009 at the age of 36.

Sharon Green said arrangements are being made for Green to be cremated.

She said there will be a public memorial, probably in conjunction with the City Club of Chicago.

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