Lura Lynn Ryan
8:10 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Former Ill. first lady Lura Lynn Ryan dies

Updated 11:39 a.m. with information that George Ryan was at his wife's side when she died.

The wife of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. George Ryan has died.

An attorney for the governor, Andrea Lyon, confirmed that Lura Lynn Ryan died Monday at a Kankakee hospital. She was 76, and had been diagnosed last year with incurable lung cancer. She'd been hospitalized since Friday and had been on a respirator.

Her husband George, who is in federal prison after being convicted of racketeering, conspiracy, tax fraud and lying to the FBI. He had petitioned a federal appeals court on Friday to allow him to visit his wife, a request the court refused. He was allowed to visit her briefly in January, shortly after court filings revealed Lura Lynn's condition.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the former governor was allowed to be at his wife's side for her final moments:

Mrs. Ryan, who had lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis, had been on a respirator since Saturday night, according to former Gov. James Thomson, a longtime family friend.

He said that was “because of the advanced stage of pulmonary fibrosis, which was completely apart from the advanced stage of the cancer.”

Thompson said the family was told Monday there was nothing more that could be done for her, “so the family decided to remove her from the respirator. She died peacfully soon thereafter. The family was at her bedside, including Gov. Ryan, who was there through the kindness of the warden.”

Ryan had visited Mrs. Ryan four times since her illness took a drastic turn for the worse early this year, Thompson said. The visits were each about two hours, until Monday night, when the former governor got to be with his wife for six hours.

The family waited for him, and they made the decision together to take her off the respirator, Thompson said.

George and Lura Lynn Ryan were high school sweethearts. They were married 55 years and had six children.