‘A trailblazer who broke barriers’: Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough dies

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, who was recently hospitalized for a serious medical condition, has died. She was 73.

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.”

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