State Rep. Mark Beaubien Jr., who represented the Barrington area in the state legislature for nearly 15 years, died Sunday after suffering an apparent heart attack at a GOP event in Arlington Heights. He was 68.
Beaubien, of Barrington Hills, suddenly collapsed while attending a House Republican fundraiser at Arlington Park racetrack with his wife and several other suburban political leaders. Paramedics' efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 5:10 p.m. at the scene, Arlington Heights police said.
"He was a giant, one of the great guys." Lake County GOP Chairman Bob Cook said. "Regardless of party, he voted his conscience and he always did what he thought was right. You have to respect that."
Beaubien, known as a moderate Republican, represented the 52nd House District, which included most of the Barrington area as well as portions of Wauconda, Fox Lake, Round Lake, Fox River Grove, Cary, Island Lake, McHenry and Lakemoor.
His family issued a statement Sunday night reading: "State Representative Mark Beaubien died suddenly late this afternoon. He was at a House Republican event with family, friends and colleagues. Arrangements are pending. We will miss him dearly."
Gov. Pat Quinn also issued a statement Sunday night.
"Mark Beaubien dedicated his life to service and making his community a better place. As a state representative, he served the people of the 52nd District with integrity and fortitude, and his sudden passing is a tremendous loss," Quinn said.
House colleagues praised him for his sharp knowledge of complex state budget issues, on which he served as Republican point man for several years. He also was described as a mentor to younger lawmakers.
"He was my protector," said state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, an Antioch Republican and longtime friend of Beaubien's. "He always watched out for me."
"I'm really sad. He was my seatmate (for five years)," said state Rep. Sandy Cole, a Republican from Grayslake. "He was well-respected on both sides of the aisle."
Though his moderate stances on some social issues earned him critics within his party, even those who disagreed with Beaubien respected him.
"When you think of a moderate, you think of someone who goes whichever way the wind blows, but Mark had a set of beliefs and he stuck by them no matter how hard the wind blew," Wauconda Township Republican Chairman Robert Gottardo said. "You have to give the man credit for that."
"We all represent our districts, and Mark represented his district, which is moderate," Cole said.
State Rep. Mike Tryon, a Republican from Crystal Lake, said despite recent illness Beaubien intended to continue serving in the legislature beyond his current term.
"He was a person with a can-do attitude," Tryon said. "He'd look at any situation and say, 'We can do this. We can get it done.' He always was positive. (His death) is just hard to believe.
"This is going to leave a hole in Lake and McHenry counties."
State Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, recalled meeting with Beaubien for a joint town hall style meeting in Island Lake, a community divided among their districts at the time.
Although Franks was a member of the opposition party and a target for GOP leadership, he said Beaubien went out of his way to help him at the event.
"I never forgot that," Franks said. "I've been a contributor to his campaign after that because I thought he was such an honorable man."
Barrington Mayor Karen Darch praised Beaubien for his work on behalf of the Barrington area.
"He certainly represented the area well, for many, many years. He cared very much about Barrington and Barrington Hills," Darch said. "He will be sorely missed. He represented us so well in the financial matters downstate."
That sentiment was echoed by Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud and Lake Barrington Village President Kevin Richardson.
"He is just a great all-around individual," Abboud said. "The public is really indebted to him."
Colleagues in the state House said Beaubien had been battling a severe case of pneumonia in recent months that had kept him out of the Capitol for much of the just ended legislative session.
However, he appeared in Springfield late last month for the final days of the term.
Beaubien is survived by his wife of over 40 years, Dee, two sons and three grandchildren, according to his website biography.
He first joined the state legislature in October 1996 to fill a seat left vacant by the resignation of former representative Al Salvi.
He won election one month later and faced few serious challenges in the seven elections thereafter.
Before heading to Springfield, Beaubien served on the Lake County Board and as Cuba Township supervisor.
He received both his bachelor's and law degrees from Northwestern University, and worked as an attorney and in the banking industry.
Diana O'Kelly, a former county board colleague, was stunned by the news of his death.
"He was a great friend to Lake County and just a really nice man," O'Kelly said.
• Daily Herald staff writers Charles Keeshan, Russell Lissau, Mike Riopell and Jamie Sotonoff contributed to this report.