Former IL Senator Adlai Stevenson III dies at 90 after long illness

'He gave us sort of gentle dignified presence'

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ByCraig Wall via WLS logo
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
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Former Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson III has died at 90-years-old.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson III has died at 90-years-old.

A close friend of the family told Eyewitness News that he died peacefully at Chicago after a long illness, surrounded by family members.

Remembered as a gentleman and a visionary, Stevenson came from a lone line of Illinois politicians.

"He gave us sort of gentle dignified presence, as opposed to the roughhousing that was often machine politics in Illinois, so he elevated politics in Illinois," said Dick Simpson, UIC Political Science Professor.

Stevenson was the son of former governor and two-time Democratic Nominee for President Adlai Stevenson II, and the great grandson of former Vice President Adlai Stevenson.

During his own career, Adlai III served as a state Representative and Illinois Treasurer, and then U.S Senator, where he focused on commerce, energy, and ethics.

"He may be best know for the political contests that he lost rather than the ones he won," said Laura Washington, ABC 7 Political Analyst.

Stevenson twice ran for governor, losing both times to Jim Thompson. In 1982, the vote margin was five thousand points. The results challenged in court.

In 1986 Stevenson was forced to run as an independent after the democratic Lt. Governor's spot went to a follower of fringe politician Lyndon LaRouche.

"His legacy was being a liberal politician who knew the state very well and stayed close to his roots," said Washington.

"We could definitely use more Adlai Stevensons, we've never had enough of them and we need more of them to improve our political process even today," said Simpson.

After leaving politics Stevenson founded the Adlai Stevenson Center for Democracy in Libertyville to honor his father.

The Stevenson Expressway was also renamed after his father.

Stevenson III is survived by his wife, two brothers, four children and nine grandchildren.