Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans' Office confirmed Monday that Elrod passed away over the weekend. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Elrod died Saturday of liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Elrod served four consecutive terms as sheriff between 1970 and 1986 and was a Cook County Circuit Court judge from 1988 until his death.
Before he was elected sheriff, Elrod was an attorney for the city of Chicago. In 1969 he suffered a broken neck while assisting a police officer who was apprehending a man. As a result, Elrod used a crutch to walk. He was subsequently elected to the Illinois House for one term before his successful run for sheriff.
His son, Steven Elrod, says his father was proud to be recognized for his efforts at youth counseling and drug awareness.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel commended Elrod's dedication to public service and extended condolences to his family and friends on Monday.
"He will forever have the enduring thanks of a grateful city," Emanuel said in a statement. "His fortitude despite physical ailment, his faith in the highest ideals of justice and public service, and his fidelity to the city he loved and the family who loved him, are examples to us all and reminders of the great contributions and even greater character of Richard."
A memorial service and reception will be held at Temple Am Shalom in Glencoe at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, according to a release from the Center for Disability & Elder Law, where Elrod served on the governing board.
"We are grateful to Judge Elrod for his dedicated service to those members of our society who experience tremendous loss and feel alone in their path to justice. Judge Elrod bridged the gap between desperation and accomplishment. The CDEL community will remember Judge Elrod for his sound legal mind, his professionalism and commitment to service," CDEL President Anthony J. O'Neill said in the release.
The release also said in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Honorable Richard J. Elrod Memorial Fund c/o CDEL, 79 West Monroe Street, Suite 919, Chicago, IL 60603 or at www.cdelaw.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.