Friends, colleagues and above all family remembered the late state Rep. Mark Beaubien of Barrington Hills on Friday, as a man of conscience and integrity whose embrace of people from backgrounds and mindsets very different from his own evolved over time.
"Before he was deified by you all for his tolerance, he was quite an Old Testament father," Beaubien's son Mark recalled, evoking a chuckle from those attending the funeral Mass at St. Anne Church in Barrington.
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The 68-year-old state legislator died Sunday afternoon of a heart attack while attending a Republican fundraiser at Arlington Park racetrack. Friends said he'd suffered a bout of illness late last winter from which he never fully recovered.
The younger Mark Beaubien said it was a wonder to watch his father evolve into a Republican legislator capable of lending support to such untraditional causes as same-sex civil unions and a woman's right to choose whether to carry a pregnancy to term.
A statement on the back of the funeral program said, "If asked why he was one of the few Republican supporters of the Civil Union Bill, he would respond with humility and simplicity that it was simply time and we should all 'live our own lives and speak our own values.'"
The younger Beaubien said his father died as one of his best friends, describing him as "oppressively affable."
Beaubien's wife of 46 years, Dee, also addressed friends and colleagues -- saying that her husband had specifically asked her to pass on his love for them and how he missed being able to say goodbye.
"Many of you didn't know how ill Mark was," Dee Beaubien said. "Don't feel guilty that you didn't know or didn't call, because Mark didn't want to talk about it."
The congregation included past and present state legislators -- including senators Pam Althoff and Dan Duffy -- as well as such local officials as Barrington Village President Karen Darch and Barrington Township Supervisor Gene Dawson. House Republican leader Tom Cross was among the pallbearers.
In his homily, the Rev. Fred Licciardi praised Beaubien as a man of character whose motivation in his public service was never recognition or personal gain.
Licciardi said Beaubien's example reminded him of the words of Abraham Lincoln, who said that all men can stand adversity, but if you give them power you will truly know who they are.
"He did his job well because of the higher purpose to which he had been called," Licciardi said. "This was a man whose life was characterized by integrity."
A former banker and lawyer, Beaubien had a unique perspective on the often controversial issue of campaign financing.
Despite having the means to self-fund his campaigns, Beaubien accepted donations from supporters to avoid any implication that he was "buying" an election. But he was always adamant that campaign donations never made him beholden to anyone but his own conscience.
Licciardi said Beaubien researched issues thoroughly and that his votes reflected his values.
Since becoming representative of the 52nd House District in 1996, Beaubien encountered relatively few contested elections. Before that he was Cuba Township supervisor from 1993 to 1996 and a member of the Lake County Board from 1992 to 1996.