The fatal degenerative disorder weakens nerves and makes it difficult to walk, swallow, and speak. Near her death,Netsch continued her work with state ethics groups, including the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
Netsch told WMAQ-TV that she spoke up about her disease because it may get more people thinking about ALS.
The Chicago Democrat was elected state comptroller in 1990. In 1994, she became the first female Democrat nominated for Illinois governor. She lost her gubernatorial bid to Jim Edgar. Before that, Netsch helped rewrite the Illinois Constitution in 1970, then was elected to the state senate, where she served for 18 years.
The 86-year-old was a professor emeritus at Northwestern University School of Law. Her late husband was Chicago architect Walter Netsch.