George Mushro, former Lockport town clerk, Will County leader, left far-reaching legacy

Lockport — Lockport Township and Will County officials are remembering George J. Mushro,Jr., who passed away on Nov. 25 at the age of 80.

Before retiring to Fort Meyers, Florida in 2014, Mushro spent 33 years of his life in Lockport Township government, serving first as a trustee and then township clerk

Born in Joliet on June 6, 1943, Mushro spent his early life in Coal City and Lockport, graduating from Lockport Township High School in 1961. While he worked as an Independent Farmers Insurance agent, his passion was local politics and community service.

Mushro was first appointed as a Lockport Township Trustee in 1980 and served in the position for 12 years before being elected as township clerk in 1993, a position he held for an additional 21 years.

During his time at the township, he played an instrumental role in creating the Lockport Township senior citizen bus transportation program and instituting early voting at the township office, both out of the desire to make people’s lives easier.

Upon his retirement in 2014, he told the Herald-News he was still proud of both programs, calling the bus system “a godsend” for seniors who would otherwise be dependent on friends and relatives for rides and stating that he had always embraced making it “as convenient as possible for people to have a voice” through early voting.

He also worked to improve senior housing in Lockport and create a township recycling program, and received the ninth annual William Z. Ahrends Award for Clerk of the Year, an Illinois award to recognize outstanding work by township clerks.

Former Lockport Township Clerk George Mushro and Lockport Township Supervisor Alex Zapien embrace at an August 2023 meeting.

In addition to his time in Lockport Township government, Mushro served as a member of the Lockport Library Board early in his career and was active in the Will County Democratic Party, serving both as chairman of the Will County Central Democratic Committee from 2004 to 2006 and as a member, treasurer, and precinct committeeman of the Lockport Township Democratic Organization board.

During his tenure as chairman in Will County, the party more than doubled its number of precinct committeemen and secured several high-profile victories.

“He was a mountain of a man, even though he only stood five-foot-six, and he had the heart of a lion.”

—  James Glasgow, Will County state's attorney

The Will County Democrats issued a statement remembering Mushro on Nov. 27, writing “with profound sadness we extend our deepest condolences on the passing of George Mushro this past weekend. Beyond his impressive professional roles, he was a beloved father, husband, grandfather, and mentor. As a friendly neighbor, George was adored by all, leaving an indelible mark, particularly across Lockport. His impact reached beyond the realm of public service as he personally touched the lives of many in our community. George’s warm presence and authentic connections will be sorely missed.”

“We’ve had such an outpouring of support and love and words of kindness since George passed, it’s amazing,” said Mushro’s sister Denise Mushro Rumchak, who served as her brother’s deputy clerk in Lockport Township. “He touched so many people’s lives. He loved his family, he loved his politics, and he loved his community. Not only was he my brother, he was my best friend. He was a mentor, a leader, he never had a bad word to say, and he had a very smart political mind.”

‘Honorable man’ and mentor

“George Mushro will be dearly missed,” said Lockport Township Supervisor Alex Zapien, who also currently serves as the chairman of the Lockport Township Democratic Party and previously worked with Mushro.

“He was a mentor to me and, more importantly, a genuine friend not just to me but to many others in Lockport. He was the leader of the Will County and Lockport Township Democrats, but mostly importantly, he was someone you could trust and work with, regardless of your political affiliation or background. I always thought very fondly of him, and I think it’s important that we share his story,” Zapien said.

One story Zapien was keen to share was Mushro’s efforts to bring the then newly elected Senator Barack Obama to Lockport for his first town hall meeting in the state in January 2005. Mushro had campaigned for triumphant Democratic candidates in November 2004 including Obama, State’s Attorney James Glasgow, and State Representative Larry Walsh, who was elected county executive in 2004.

The party’s success in the county secured the senator’s attention and earned Mushro’s home town a visit. Mushro then successfully lobbied for Obama, who’s presidential aspirations were already receiving buzz, to hold his town hall event at Lockport’s historic Central Square building, Zapien said.

“The place was past the fire code that day,” Mushro Rumchak said. “So many people came out, and George made it happen.”

While he was not chosen to introduce Obama at the event, Mushro did have the opportunity to have lunch with the future president afterwards, something he reflected on in 2009 while expressing his hopes that his fellow Illinois democrat would be a unifying figure in national politics.

“George had great judgment about who would be a good elected official, and he worked hard to get those people elected,” said Glasgow, who knew Mushro for nearly 40 years. “He was a mountain of a man, even though he only stood five-foot-six, and he had the heart of a lion. He was a very honorable man, a very hard working man, and I was honored to work with him.”

Mushro worked as a special investigator under Glasgow for four years from 2009 to 2012 helping the state’s attorney’s office find witnesses.

“There wasn’t a phony bone in his body,” said Glasgow. “You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who met him that didn’t like him, even from the opposing party. He was an open, generous human being with a great sense of humor, and I always loved being around him.”

Glasgow, who is now seeking his eighth term as state’s attorney, said he would not be where he is today if not for Mushro, who helped him not only with campaigning but even with getting his paperwork filed at the last minute to run back in 2004.

“He came through like a champion, and we won that election because of George,” said Glasgow. “My heart goes out to his family. This is a terrible loss, but I’m sure he’s holding court in heaven right now.”

“He wanted people to succeed,” said Mushro’s son Bartholomew. “He had an eye for seeing potential in people, and Jim Glasgow is a great example. He managed countless campaigns because he wanted people to succeed.”

Outside politics, Mushro was also a longtime member of the Lockport Moose Lodge and the St. Dennis Catholic Church men’s club. While in Lockport he was a member of the Old Timers Baseball Association, and his family described him as “an avid golfer.”

“George was lucky he got to retire and do the thing he loved most next to helping people, play golf,” said Glasgow. “It was a life well lived.”

Mushro’s family said he was both a devoted democrat and a devoted Catholic until the end.

“His faith was very important to him and he wanted to pass that on,” said his wife of 46 years Sharon. “He was a great husband, a great family man, and a great person. And he’s an angel now.”

George Mushro’s full obituary can be viewed here.