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Former Ill. state Sen. Beverly Fawell dies at 82

June 24, 2013 GMT
In this Jan 15, 2000 photo, former Illinois state Sen. Beverly Fawell is seen at her home in Glen Ellyn, Ill., , shortly after retiring  from the Illinois Senate. Scott Fawell, a former aide to Gov. George Ryan, said his mother died Saturday, June 22, 2013, of chronic heart failure at Central DuPage Hospital. She was 82. The DuPage County Republican served in the Illinois House and Senate from 1981 to 1999. She later worked for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and was a trustee for the College of DuPage. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Paul Michna) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT
In this Jan 15, 2000 photo, former Illinois state Sen. Beverly Fawell is seen at her home in Glen Ellyn, Ill., , shortly after retiring from the Illinois Senate. Scott Fawell, a former aide to Gov. George Ryan, said his mother died Saturday, June 22, 2013, of chronic heart failure at Central DuPage Hospital. She was 82. The DuPage County Republican served in the Illinois House and Senate from 1981 to 1999. She later worked for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and was a trustee for the College of DuPage. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Paul Michna) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT
In this Jan 15, 2000 photo, former Illinois state Sen. Beverly Fawell is seen at her home in Glen Ellyn, Ill., , shortly after retiring from the Illinois Senate. Scott Fawell, a former aide to Gov. George Ryan, said his mother died Saturday, June 22, 2013, of chronic heart failure at Central DuPage Hospital. She was 82. The DuPage County Republican served in the Illinois House and Senate from 1981 to 1999. She later worked for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and was a trustee for the College of DuPage. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Paul Michna) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (AP) — Politics and family were deeply intertwined for Beverly Fawell, a linchpin in one of DuPage County’s most prominent Republican clans.

As a state senator, she advocated for the disabled and helped establish assisted living centers for seniors. But when push came to shove, it was her own family that came first for Fawell, who died Saturday at age 82.

It happened when she resigned from the Illinois Senate in 1999, after the death of her son Steve.

“She made the decision to give up a nice, long career to take care of her two grandchildren,” son Scott Fawell said. “To make sure they had a good foundation and a good home. She walked away without any regrets.”

The Fawell family was among the earliest settlers of suburban DuPage County west of Chicago, and over time, family members became known for their involvement in local politics. Fawell’s husband, Bruce Fawell, was a former chief judge in DuPage County, and her sister-in-law is former U.S. Rep. Harris Fawell. Her son Scott was an aide to former Gov. George Ryan.

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Beverly Fawell served one term in the Illinois House from 1981-83, before being elected to the state Senate.

“Our state has lost a great role model and champion for the advocacy of mental health issues,” U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, who succeeded her in the state Senate after her retirement in 1999, said in a statement. “Sen. Beverly Fawell’s legacy of support for families and the disabled will leave a lasting impact in our community and it was an honor to know her.”

Illinois Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno said Fawell will be remembered for her work establishing assisted living facilities for senior citizens.

“As the chief architect of Illinois’ first law to establish assisted living facilities in the state, she cajoled, negotiated, and dogged everyone for more than two years,” Radogno said. “Seniors today are benefiting from Sen. Bev Fawell’s work to set quality standards for the communal living arrangements in a home-like atmosphere which are now so popular.”

Fawell died of chronic heart failure Saturday, 10 days after being hospitalized at Central DuPage Hospital, her son said.

“It was typical of her,” Scott Fawell said of his mother’s passing. “She kept asking me, ‘Are you OK?’ I’m going, ‘Mom, I’m fine.’”

After leaving the Legislature, Beverly Fawell went on to posts at the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and as a trustee for the College of DuPage.

After Scott Fawell was convicted on corruption charges in the case against Ryan, his mother was a vocal supporter and a regular visitor at the federal prison camp in South Dakota where her son spent four years.

In addition to spending time with her family, she traveled regularly with former state Sen. Doris Karpiel, who plans to give a eulogy at the funeral Saturday, Scott Fawell said.

In addition to her son, Beverly Fawell is survived by a daughter, Judy, her son Jeff, and seven grandchildren.