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Top widows' pensions

September 14, 2009

Illinois government pension funds provide lucrative benefits for widows, whose death benefits in some cases exceed the salaries of their late spouses. Two of the most generous are the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System, which allows members to set up two separate death-benefit plans for their spouses, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago, which provides widows with as much as 85 percent of their late spouses' pensions.

Below are the highest death benefits paid under 16 of the state's top government pension plans. (The CTA pension plan refused to provide records on pensions paid to widows.)

1. Beverly Lopatka $260,903

Husband Robert Lopatka was superintendent of DuPage High School District 88.

2. Sandra J. Stevens $160,273

Husband Robert Stevens was superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.

3. Ann M. McMillan $159,234

Husband Hugh McMillan was general superintendent of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Chicago.

4. Debra Brinkworth $143,649

Husband John Brinkworth was gymnastics coach at Evanston Township High School.

5. Marjorie A. Dalton $142,173

Husband Frank Dalton was general superintendent for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

6. Patricia C. Neubauer $127,210

Husband Ronald Neubauer was chief engineer for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

7. Emma Wegner $124,901

Husband Robert Wegner was a math teacher at Highland Park High School.

8. Heather Bilandic Black $119,467

Husband Michael Bilandic was Chicago's mayor and later an Illinois Supreme Court chief judge.

9. Sandra Woolard $115,834

Husband Lee Schmoekel was a dean for Thornton Fractional High School District 215.

10. Jacquelyn R. Lies $114,493

Husband John Lies was a physical education instructor at Naperville's Steeple Run Elementary School.