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updated: 12/2/2013 5:30 AM

Ex-state Rep. Robert Bergman recalled as die-hard politician

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  • Robert Bergman during his time as Illinois State Representative of the 54th District. Bergman died Friday at age 65.

      Robert Bergman during his time as Illinois State Representative of the 54th District. Bergman died Friday at age 65.
    courtesy of the Bergman family

  • Former Illinois state Rep. and Palatine Township Highway Commissioner Robert Bergman with his youngest granddaughter, Riley. Bergman died Friday at age 65.

      Former Illinois state Rep. and Palatine Township Highway Commissioner Robert Bergman with his youngest granddaughter, Riley. Bergman died Friday at age 65.
    courtesy of the Bergman family

 
 

People close to him say that aside from his family, Robert Bergman's life was defined by an immense interest in politics and history.

"He's always been a die-hard Republican his entire life," said his daughter, Jessica Bergman. "He was just very committed to his family and committed to politics and righting wrongs and standing up for what he believed in."

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The former Illinois state representative and Palatine Township Highway Commissioner died Friday at age 65, after a nearly two-year battle with esophageal cancer.

Described by his daughter Jessica as committed and loyal, but also headstrong and stubborn, Bergman was a lifelong resident of Palatine.

He graduated from Palatine High School and worked with his father for their family-run business, Bergman Trucking.

Tom Bergman said his brother's interest in politics stemmed back to when he was a child.

He remembered sharing a room with his brother and having to listen to a record from 1960 about the "Making of the President" that Robert obsessed over and memorized word for word.

"He played that over and over and over again," Tom Bergman said with a laugh. "He was just always into politics."

Jessica Bergman said she recently discovered that as a teenager, her father wrote letters to White House officials and received many responses back, which he stored away for decades.

"He was always writing," she said, adding that along with the letters, she found about 20 boxes filled with history books while sorting through her father's possessions.

In 1973, at age 24, Bergman followed his father Vernon Bergman's footsteps and ran for Palatine Township Highway commissioner. He won and held the position for 24 years.

During the early 1990s, Bergman worked as a customer service representative in the vehicle service department for the Illinois Secretary of State.

Then, from 1996 to 1999, Bergman served as the state representative of the 54th District.

"I remember him just being so happy to have that position. He was so proud to have that position," Jessica Bergman said.

Tom Bergman said his brother was so passionate about serving Illinois he asked to have the state seal put on his tombstone.

"Being in politics, he probably stepped on some toes, but I don't think he did it in a mean-spirited way," Tom Bergman said of his brother. "He just always tried to do right. He always wanted to make things better."

After serving one term as state representative, Bergman worked for Arrow Road Construction until his retirement in 2012. During that time he also helped local politicians with campaign management.

"There were many, many people who consulted him for campaign advice," she said.

Bergman is survived by his father, four children, six grandchildren, two siblings and multiple nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home, 201 N. Northwest Hwy. in Palatine.

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