Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Former Senator Dies
Former U.S. Senator Paul Simon, D-Makanda, a strong supporter of the Old Slave House, died earlier today in Springfield following heart surgery yesterday. He was 75.

Here's the obituary from the Chicago Tribune.

Simon had lobbied Gov. Jim Edgar during the closing days of the 1998 spring session about the state acquiring the house. Simon's main goal had been to convince Edgar to join his public policy institute at Southern Illinois University, but Edgar eventually decided for a similar position at the University of Illinois.

Over the years Simon had continued to support the house lobbying the staffs of Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, finding ironically, more support with the former than the latter.

Though despite being closed to the public, Simon annually brought one of his classes from SIU over to visit the house, the only group tours that have taken place since the house closed in 1996. I had the opportunity to guide a few of those tours.

Illinois lost a great leader today. He will be missed.