Ruth Kretschmer was truly “one of a kind”. She and her husband of 71 years, Bob Kretschmer, both passed away in their home on December 15, within 15 minutes of each other.
Ruth was born in Elmhurst and, after meeting and marrying Bob, started a family which resulted in three children, eight grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. That alone would have been deemed a successful and fulfilling life for most people. But Ruth Kretschmer was certainly not “most people”.
Along with raising her children, Ruth found time to become active in DuPage County government and politics. She served in many capacities within the county’s Republican organization and also served on the DuPage County Board, chairing its’ Zoning Committee. While in her fifties, she attended college and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University and attended classes at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
But Ruth Kretschmer is most widely remembered as one of the nation’s leading utility regulatory commissioners.
At 20 years, she is the longest serving commissioner on the Illinois Commerce Commission and at the time of her retirement was the longest serving female state regulatory commissioner in the nation. She also served for many years as Chair of the Committee on Gas for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
Kretschmer was a recognized expert in the utility regulatory field and an accomplished public speaker. She was widely sought for conferences and meetings both across the United States and overseas. She journeyed several times to Kazakhstan to provide guidance towards developing that nation’s electric power grid after it became independent of the USSR.
Above all else, Ruth Kretschmer was a leader at a time when leadership in her field was still largely a male province. She was also highly respected by her peers around the nation and her service to both regional and national utility regulatory groups was exemplary. She will be remembered by those she worked with in the Midwest and nationally.
In Illinois, there will truly never be another like her. She provided strong leadership during important times for the state’s energy industry and its stakeholders. She was often outspoken but always willing to engage with others who may not have shared her opinions. She will be missed in Illinois and whenever utility regulators gather together. She was also a great friend and we, her friends, will miss her even more. –Jim Monk