Julie Brady, grass roots political worker, ‘beautiful soul,’ dies

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Julie Brady shunned the limelight, even though she often belonged in it.

The wife of former Illinois GOP Party Chairman Pat Brady liked to work behind the scenes. During U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign she helped lead a grassroots effort to put his name on the ballot in Illinois.

On Friday, Mrs. Brady died following a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 51. She also leaves behind four children, Maeve, 17; Kelly, 16; Patrick, 14 and Grace, 13.

Mrs. and Mr. Brady first met when they worked as federal prosecutors in San Diego.

Pat Brady recalls their first meeting to the day: July 5, 1994. The two both worked on the Tax and White Collar task force. They were married in 1996.

Mrs. Brady lived in St. Charles, but is originally from Antigo, Wis., and attended St. Norbert’s, where she was Homecoming Queen in 1983. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with honors and was hired into the U.S. Justice Department’s honors program.

“The thing she never wanted [was] credit in anything,” her husband said.

The two soon had four children and loved to take them across the country on family trips.

“We drove to Arizona, to Florida to Utah,” Pat Brady said. “She is a big adventurer, she always wanted to see stuff.”

Once in the last minute, they cashed in a slew of frequent flier miles, headed to Germany with nothing booked and headed to all the battle sites from the Band of Brothers book.

Friends from Springfield to Washington grieved at hearing the news on Friday.

“She’s been a dear friend for so many years,” said a tearful state Rep. Jim Durkin, the GOP Minority Leader in the Illinois House. “She’s just a beautiful soul, a wonderful wife and mother. We’re all better to have known her for these years.”

Like her husband, Julie Brady was involved in politics. She did political work with U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis as well as U.S. Rep. John Shimkus – both downstate Republicans. She most recently worked for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart as a special counsel in the executive office, according to Brady.

“She was a big, hard-working grass roots person in the true sense. She probably raised $250,000 for McCain in ‘08. She just did stuff behind the scenes,” her husband said.

Her death on Friday spurred condolences from across the state, including from U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

“It is with a heavy heart that I offer my condolences to the Brady family upon learning of Julie Brady’s passing today. I have had the pleasure of knowing, working with and, most importantly, being close friends with the Brady family for many years. Julie’s dedication, passion and love for her family, our state, and our nation was unparalleled. My thoughts and prayers are with Pat and their four children.”

Services for Julie Brady are to be held Monday. Visitation is 10 a.m. at St. Pat’s Church in St. Charles and funeral services are at noon.

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