Illinois Sen. Scott Bennett dies at 45

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 3:32 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois State Senator Scott Bennett has died at 45.

The Champaign County Coroner reported that the Democratic lawmaker died of natural causes at 1:15 p.m. Friday. Bennett was hospitalized Thursday for an undisclosed medical issue. Scott’s wife, Stacy, said her husband passed away surrounded by family and loved ones at Carle Hospital in Urbana following complications of a large brain tumor.

“We are devastated to share that our beloved Scott has passed away. We remain in complete shock because it was all so sudden and unexpected,” Stacy Bennett stated. “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.”

The former Champaign and McLean County Assistant State’s Attorney had served as a senator since 2015. Bennett played a key role in the SAFE-T Act trailer bill passed by the Illinois Senate and House last week. He chaired the Senate Higher Education Committee and served as Vice Chair of the Judiciary and State Government committees. Bennett also served as a member of the Senate Agriculture, Executive Appointments, Labor, Appropriations - Higher Education, Redistricting, and Unemployment Insurance committees.

Bennett grew up in Gibson City and received a bachelor’s degree in history at Illinois State University. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. Bennett leaves behind his wife Stacy and their twins.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say they are praying for his family and friends.

Gov. JB Pritzker said the state of Illinois mourns the loss of a dedicated public servant and devoted father. Pritzker said Bennett was a good man who operated with the best interest of 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,” Pritzker stated. “The entire state is a better place thanks to his service. MK and I send our thoughts to his loving wife Stacy and their two beautiful children during this difficult period.”

Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton said Illinois lost an incredible leader and a loving family man. Stratton also noted that she lost a fellow Illini and a friend.

“Scott was a brilliant and loyal fighter who not only worked tirelessly on behalf of his constituents but also to uplift people throughout the state. Scott understood that being a leader requires the courage to speak up and the heart to listen,” Stratton said. “Scott brought energy and joy whenever he entered a room. I know that the halls of Springfield will have less joy because he is now gone.”

Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said he was devastated to learn of Bennett’s death.

“My heartfelt sympathy and prayers are with his wife Stacy and their children during this unimaginably difficult time,” Harmon said. “I ask the media and others to respect their privacy.”

Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) said his heart breaks for Bennett’s wife and children as they lost him too soon. McConchie said Bennett was one of the most genuine individuals and embodied what it means to be a true public servant.

“Today, the Illinois Senate lost a Senator who was truly serving to make a difference for the state of Illinois,” McConchie said. “I mourn with my Senate colleagues and the Senate Democratic Caucus. My prayers go out to his loved ones as they grapple with this unexpected and sudden loss.”

Senate Republican Leader-Elect John Curran (R-Downers Grove) also extended his prayers to the senator’s family and friends during this difficult time.

“Senator Bennett was a true statesman who was a master at the use of humor to disarm one in a debate. He displayed great passion and wisdom in crafting public policy and it was a privilege to work with him in the General Assembly,” Curran said. “While it was evident that he enjoyed his work in the Legislature, nothing was more important to him than his family.”

Bennett served in a district neighboring Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). Rose said his entire family is deeply saddened to hear Bennett has passed.

“Scotty was a great guy, who worked tirelessly for the folks of Champaign and Vermillion Counties. I always enjoyed the fact that when it came to local issues, we would work together without partisanship,” Rose said. “I always looked forward to seeing him around town whether at the YMCA or the Buffalo Wild Wings, where we could occasionally run into each other with our kids. The world needs more Scott Bennetts, not less. Our prayers go out to his entire family.”

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) extended his deepest condolences to Bennett’s family and loved ones.

“Senator Bennett was a fierce advocate for his community and never wavered in his pursuit to make his district, and all of Illinois, a better place to call home,” Welch said. “We are all better for knowing Senator Bennett, and I pray his loved ones find comfort in their most cherished memories during this time of mourning.”

Treasurer Michael Frerichs said Friday that he can’t believe Scott is gone. Bennett was appointed to the Senate seat Frerichs held before he became Treasurer in 2015.

“He was a loving husband, devoted father, and to me, one of my closest friends,” Frerichs said. “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. Scott had a big laugh and an even bigger heart. He made friends easily, understood the value of hard work, and was quick with words of encouragement at just the right time. Certainly, he learned these truths from his family, which date back five generations in East Central Illinois. Today, they remain deeply committed to helping neighbors, especially their fellow farmers, because it simply is the right thing to do.”

“The loss of Senator Scott Bennett is an unexpected tragedy,” said House Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria). “Senator Bennett’s collegiality and dedication was instrumental to the work of refining and enhancing the SAFE-T Act, and his dedication to his community was paramount. His passing is a sad moment for our state as a whole, and his community, his friends, and his family in particular.”

“Scott was always such a friendly and genuine guy, and you could tell he truly cared about his community and our state,” said Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon). “God bless his memory, and his family. May he rest in peace.”

The Democratic Party of Illinois also released a statement mourning the loss of Sen. Bennett.

“He was a colleague, public servant, and dedicated family man committed to improving the lives of his constituents. We uplift his wife Stacy and their children in our prayers during this time of ineffable loss,” said DPI Chair Lisa Hernandez (D-Chicago).

This story will be updated.

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