It was tragically revealed on Friday that Illinois State Sen. Scott Bennett (D) of the Champaign area had died at the age of 45, local ABC affiliate WLS reported.
He is reported to have passed away while surrounded by family and friends at Carle Hospital in Urbana where he had been receiving treatment for a brain tumor.
Bennet is survived by his wife, Stacy, and their two young children.
Death was “sudden and unexpected“
“We are devastated to share that our beloved Scott has passed away,” Stacy said in a statement on behalf of the family. “We remain in complete shock because it was all so sudden and unexpected.”
“Scott will forever be known for being an extraordinary father, husband, and friend. His quick humor and wit could light up any room he entered. We will miss his stories, the way he could always make people laugh, and his genuine kindness,” she added.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D), who ordered all flags in the state to be lowered in Bennett’s honor, said in a statement, “Today, the state of Illinois mourns the loss of a dedicated public servant and devoted father. Senator Scott Bennett was a good man who always operated with the best interest of his constituents in mind.”
“Throughout his time in Springfield, he fiercely advocated for the institutions that shaped his life, from his upbringing on a Gibson City farm, all the way to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The entire state is a better place thanks to his service,” the governor added.
Friends and colleagues offer condolences
Local CBS affiliate WBBM reported that Bennett had grown up as the latest of five generations to work on a family farm in Gibson City before he attended and graduated from Illinois State University and earned a law degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign law school.
Prior to being appointed to the state Senate in 2015, he had served as an assistant state’s attorney in Champaign County as an assistant state’s attorney.
When Bennett was appointed to the Senate in 2015, he took over for his friend and current Treasurer Mike Frerichs, who said of the Bennett family in a statement, according to local outlet WCIA, “My heart breaks for their loss and the unimaginable grief and emptiness they must feel,” and added, “I pray the memories they have of better times will strengthen and sustain them in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. I pray they will strengthen and sustain me too.”
In a statement to WLS, Frerichs also said, “I can’t believe Scott is gone. He was a loving husband, devoted father, and to me, one of my closest friends. He fought for people as an assistant state’s attorney and continued to fight for people as an Illinois State Senator. He was not afraid of the difficult issues and there was no challenge too big for him to tackle.”
WLS also noted that Senate President Don Harmon said, “I was devastated today to learn of the death of Senator Scott Bennett. My heartfelt sympathy and prayers are with his wife Stacy and their children during this unimaginably difficult time.”
Displays of honor and respect
WCIA reported that in addition to Gov. Pritzker’s order for all flags in the state to fly at half-staff, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz also asked count residents to display in their yards any Bennett campaign signs they may still have after the elections as a show of honor and respect.
There is no word yet on any funeral or memorial plans, and the family has asked that their privacy be respected at this time.