A message by McHenry County State’s Attorney before he took office appeared in the office newsletter:
On my first day in the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office many years ago, my first meeting of the day was with the elected State’s Attorney, Lou Bianchi.
He called me into his large office adorned with Notre Dame Memorabilia (yeah, he’s one of those guys), a throng of family pictures, and mural of some pastoral Italian countryside (I was wondering if I’d get bottomless bread sticks with my job).
I was expecting to be handed a manual as thick as a phone book of office procedures, protocols, case law, and best practices. I had my brand new yellow notepad, and was ready to fill up the pages with every last instruction Lou was about to dictate to me.
After nervously entering his office, thanking him profusely for hiring me, I sat down, readied my pen on my notepad, and waited for Lou to begin reciting the litany of instructions and office protocols.
Correctly seeing that in my eagerness, every muscle in my body was probably contracted and that I hadn’t yet blinked, he told me to relax and put down the notepad, which I did. He then calmly said,
“I ask only that while working in this Office that you do the right thing.”
That was it.
“Doing the right thing” and doing right by others is an outgrowth of Lou’s underlying ethic of “celebrating life” – the perfect emblem of which is the carnation his fiercely loyal wife, Jean, attaches to his lapel every morning.
In retrospect, being around Lou always did feel somewhat like a celebration. He certainly dressed for a chic party every day, and one couldn’t help feel while working for Lou that he was acting more as host than boss.
I know Lou to be a man of great vitality and energy, who went from event to event, speech to speech, meeting to meeting, and door to door with an authentic enthusiasm for interacting with people and his famous charm.
While working in the state’s attorney’s office, with its solemn responsibilities and sometimes grave subject matter, forces many in this business to steel themselves with utter seriousness and a deliberate scowl, Lou is graced with an almost irresistible urge to see the lighter side of life. Many may not know that he’s actually a prankster who laughs easily at his own imperfections and is most at ease trading barbs with friends.
Doing the right thing, or doing good always has a cost, and Lou and his family paid that price in 2009.
Lou, however, was not bowed by the darker forces in this County that sought to take from him by fiat what can only be given by the People.
His fight in 2009 to expose the true corruption that had hijacked the criminal justice system was the embodiment of resilience and courage.
Lou’s accomplishments while in Office are varied and vast. He was instrumental in starting the First Offender Program, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and the check enforcement program.
His aggressive approach to prosecuting violent, DUI and domestic offenders has ensured justice on behalf of thousands of victims.
He has implemented office efficiencies that have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. He has improved service to crime victims and encouraged his staff to take on and win difficult cases that
lesser elected state’s attorneys would have walked away from.
He and his staff have received multiple awards from every victim’s organization operating in McHenry County, including AAIM, MADD, and Turning Point.
His legacy is having created one of the best and most cost-effective offices in the State.
Lou has been a mentor, friend, father figure, and model prosecutor for me and many others. He is a beloved public figure.
He will be deeply missed.
I pray that he and Jean enjoy the many years of joy and relaxation to come, all of which have been surely earned after a job exceedingly well done.