She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on September 16, 1926. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University in 1948 and was first in her class from the law school in 1952.
When Adlai Stevenson ran for president in 1952, she worked on his campaign and remained in Washington for a time before returning to Chicago. In private practice from 1957 to 1961, she then joined the staff of Governor Otto Kerner. In 1970, she was a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention and two years later was elected to the State Senate. In 1990, she was elected as the state’s comptroller.
In 1963, Dawn Clark married Walter A. Netsch, Jr. I don’t know how they met and there was no announcement in the Chicago Tribune. His father was Walter A. Netsch, Sr. who was a vice president of Armour and Company. When Mr. Netsch, Sr. died in 1965, there were two surviving children: Walter A. Netsch, Jr. and Mrs. William Kerr.
Mr. Netsch died in 2008. He was a renowned architect who was the chief designer of the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, including the distinctive Cadet Chapel. During his career, he designed 15 libraries and the east wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a collector and patron of the arts.
When Dawn Clark Netsch ran for governor her slogan was “not just another pretty face.” She lost because there was weak support from the Cook County Democratic Machine and she was running against the very popular Jim Edgar.
One of her lifelong hobbies was playing eight-ball pool and she was very good. So, one of her campaign ads showed her playing a game of pool and winning, of course. This also played on her reputation as a “straight shooter.” I heard a tribute on the radio from Judy Baar Topinka who used this same term “straight shooter.”
Here is a tribute to Mrs. Netsch copied from Judy Baar Topinka’s facebook page:
“Dawn faithfully served Illinois and its residents for more than four decades, fighting for good, honest government that rises above politics. In fact, one of the highlights of my legislative career was partnering with her to co-sponsor the state’s Open Meetings Act. She continued her work as State Comptroller, establishing the office as an honest broker and credible source of information when it comes to state finances. And she continued her crusade into retirement, regularly speaking out on the need for government reform and accountability.
Dawn always remembered that government exists to serve taxpayers, not the other way around. She was a leader who was ahead of her time and our state is better for her service. More than that, she was a consummate professional and a class act. It was my honor to call her a colleague and friend.”
Mrs. Netsch was a life member of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and often attended the St. Andrew’s Day Banquet. She was honored as our Distinguished Citizen in 1995. She was more than an occasional reader of our Blog as is Judy Baar Topinka who is also a member of our Governing Board and frequent attender at the Annual Banquet.
The Democratic Party has lost an honest politician and we have lost a friend. My sympathies to members of the family and especially the Kerr family.
Wayne Rethford, Past President
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
History Club: April 6, 2013. Our speaker is David T. Macfarlane a Master Chef born in Elderslie, Scotland. He spend 10 years in the U.S. Navy serving two four-star admirals, the crew and officers of the USS Mount Whitney and the President of the United States in the White House and Blair House in Washington, D.C.
“Chef Macfarlane has consistently returned to Scotland as an example to all Scots to never forget from whence they come...” More information to follow.