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updated: 2/28/2012 5:41 PM

Rep. Hensel of West Chicago dies

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SPRINGFIELD -- Former state Rep. Don Hensel of West Chicago died Sunday, it was announced on the Illinois House floor Tuesday.

Hensel, a Republican, was 85. He served in the Illinois House from 1983 to 1993.

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"He will be greatly missed by me, by his family, and I think by the people of Illinois," state Rep. Mike Fortner, a West Chicago Republican, told his colleagues in the House.

"One of his biggest accomplishments while in Springfield was working with Mayor (Eugene) Rennels and the residents of West Chicago to secure the cleanup of (radioactive waste site) Kerr McGee," Hensel's obituary reads. "Though that would signal a retirement to some, Don was appointed by the Governor of Illinois to be a Director on the Illinois International Port District and served on that Board until August 1998."

His work on the Kerr McGee cleanup included a 1990 demonstration where Hensel, then-U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert and West Chicago residents held hands to form a human chain around the radioactive site. They called it "Hands around the Waste."

Fortner told the House that when he moved to West Chicago, his real-estate agent said he was lucky to pick the house he did because Fortner would live on the same street as his state representative.

"He was my neighbor. He was my friend," Fortner said.

Hensel was a veteran of the Air Force in World War II and the Korean conflict.

In addition to his years in the House, Hensel served as a Winfield Township trustee from 1973 to 1977, and Winfield Township clerk from 1977 to 1985.

He is survived by his wife Mary Ann, as well as three sons, one daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Visitation will be 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Norris Walen-Segert Funeral Home, 132 Fremont St., West Chicago. Funeral Mass is 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary's Church, 140 Oakwood Ave., West Chicago.

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