John McGuire, a former official in the administration of Illinois Governor Dan Walker who went on to manage the Midwest office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, died at Evanston Hospital on Nov. 8 following a stroke. He was 77 and lived in Evanston.
A native of Chicago, Mr. McGuire earned degrees from Northern Illinois University and the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
In 1968 he worked as a Midwest organizer in the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and he was later named a staff attorney on the Walker Commission. The commission, chaired by Chicago attorney Dan Walker (later Governor of Illinois), issued a report in December of 1968 on the causes of the riots connected to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Following his work for the commission, he became an officer in the Independent Voters of Illinois, a non-profit political organization based in Chicago.
In 1971 he moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as co-director of the Cable TV Information Center, a resource center for municipalities funded by the Ford Foundation and headquartered at the Urban Institute. The Institute is a Washington-based think tank that carries out economic and social policy research to “open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions.”
He then served as a senior aide in Springfield to Governor Walker before
being appointed in 1976 director of the Illinois Department of Conservation. (This executive department is now the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.)
In 1978 President Jimmy Carter appointed Mr. McGuire Midwest Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a job he held until 1981. In that role he was responsible for implementing the policies and managing the programs of the federal EPA in six states – Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
He was later named Cable Administrator for the City of Chicago by Mayor Jane Byrne. As the city’s so-called cable czar, he recommended to the mayor and the city council which cable TV companies should be awarded franchises to operate within Chicago.
In 1984 Mr. McGuire was named Corporate Attorney for Independent Mechanical Industries, a Chicago-based mechanical contractor that builds and maintains central heating and cooling plants, water and waste-water treatment plants, pumping stations, and other institutional, municipal, commercial and industrial facilities. Several years later, he joined the company’s board.
Mr. McGuire also served for many years as a member of the board of directors of the McGaw YMCA in Evanston.
He is survived by his wife, Judith McGuire; a daughter, Jessica McGuire; two grandsons; and a brother, Daniel McGuire.
Visitation was held on Nov. 11 at the Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home, Chicago. A funeral mass was held at St. Mary Margaret Church in Chicago on Nov.12.