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Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough dies Sunday

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough died Sunday, April 7, at age 73. The clerk’s office issued the following statement.

“It is with profound sadness that the Cook County Clerk’s Office announces the death of Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough, a beloved leader and dedicated public servant who was serving her second term as the elected Clerk of Cook County at the time of her passing. 

“Clerk Yarbrough passed away peacefully Sunday afternoon surrounded by her husband and family after being hospitalized last week. 

“‘We have lost one of the brightest lights in the public service arena in Cook County and the State of Illinois and we will never be quite the same,’ said Chief Deputy Clerk Cedric Giles. ‘Clerk Yarbrough brought a unique spirit, energy, and compassion to her role in public service, and she used those gifts to bring out the best in all of us. She will be missed beyond measure.’

“Clerk Yarbrough and her husband Henderson were longtime Maywood residents and active members of their community. Her family released the following statement: ‘Karen Yarbrough was a wife, mother, sister, aunt and mentor to everyone who met her. So many of us stand on her shoulders and are actively walking pathways that she forged. As a public servant, she had the courage to stand in support of issues that were not always popular, but she knew them to be right. She was a champion of women’s rights and a defender of the underprivileged and she touched so many people’s lives for the better. Proud is too small a word for what it means to have someone like her as part of our family.’

“During her tenure as Clerk, Yarbrough is credited with implementing sweeping changes throughout the office including a complete modernization of election voting equipment and enhancements to the entire voting process for suburban voters. 

“During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, she successfully managed a first-of-its kind government consolidation by assuming all duties of the former Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office into the operations of the Clerk’s Office. 

“’The Clerk’s steadfast commitment to accuracy, efficiency, advocacy and cybersecurity resulted in groundbreaking initiatives in programming and technology that will have a constructive impact on the operations of the Clerk’s Office for generations to come,’ said Giles. 

“When she was elected in 2018, Karen Yarbrough became the first woman and the first African American to serve as Cook County Clerk.”

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