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updated: 7/17/2013 5:24 AM

Former state senator recovering from cancer, strokes

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  • Former state Sen. David Regner is back in Illinois recovering from cancer and two strokes.

    Former state Sen. David Regner is back in Illinois recovering from cancer and two strokes.
    courtesy of Northwest Community Hospital


Longtime public servant David Regner has, to put it lightly, endured a difficult couple of years.

The former state senator's wife Joyce and son David died within months of each other in 2011, and Regner himself had to undergo open-heart surgery.

Then the four-term Palatine Township supervisor was diagnosed last December with Merkel cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer 40 times more rare than melanoma.

A lengthy surgery, radiation and two strokes followed.

"It's been a tough stretch," Regner, 82, said.

Today, Regner is getting settled into his new, and hopefully temporary, home at the Rosewood Care Center in Inverness.

The South Barrington man is still unable to walk and the strokes affected his speech, but doctors declared him strong enough to travel. So last week, he and friend Jo Mullen made the trip back north via air ambulance from Arizona, where he used to spend winters.

Now that he's back in the suburbs, Regner hopes friends and former colleagues will stop by or drop him a line. And they've got plenty about which to reminisce.

Regner, the only son of European immigrants, served as state representative from 1967 to 1972 and state senator from 1973 to 1980. Before that, he spent two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. The former Mount Prospect resident also ran a consulting firm.

Regner once again was bitten by the political bug and successfully ran for Palatine Township supervisor in 1993, a post he held until losing the Republic primary in 2005.

"I couldn't sit still," Regner said. "I was involved in many different things."

Because both his first and second wives died from cancer or a cancer-related ailment, Regner in 2011 donated more than $100,000 to Northwest Community Hospital's radiation oncology department. The money will help fund the renovation of the waiting room to make it more welcoming for patients.

A hospital spokeswoman said the project will be completed this fall and that donors will be invited to a celebratory event.

Regner said at the time that he believes those with the capacity to give should share their good fortune with the community.

Regner's sister, Dorothy Dellphey of Harpers Ferry, Iowa, said she hopes the people her brother served and served with for so many years will in turn support him during a difficult time. She'd especially like to see U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who continues to recover 18 months after his own stroke, reach out.

"I feel it would be great for Dave's morale," she said.

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