Friends and colleagues of longtime Antioch Township Supervisor Steve Smouse said Monday they were stunned to learn of his death Sunday, just 16 days after he was diagnosed with cancer.
"I can honestly tell you it was a shock," said former state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, a Republican from Antioch Township. "It's so sad."
Osmond said it was her late husband, Tim Osmond, who appointed Smouse to the Antioch Township supervisor's post after he won election to the state House in 1999.
"He (Smouse) was such a good, good friend, one that I will really miss," she said. "He's helped so many people in Antioch, and so many seniors. He's going to be missed by a lot of people."
According to his brother, Jeff Smouse, Steve Smouse went to St. Mary's Hospital in Milwaukee last month believing he was experiencing minor heart trouble. Instead, he learned he was suffering from a "very aggressive" form of cancer, Jeff Smouse said. He died at the hospital while surrounded by family Sunday.
Steve Smouse, 65, had lived in the Antioch area since 1956 and graduated from Antioch High School in 1970. He served as a funeral director and a paramedic in Antioch, before taking over as township supervisor in 1999.
He also was a 25-year member of the Antioch Rotary Club, volunteered at the Antioch Historical Society and served as past president of the Hillside Cemetery Association and Antioch Rescue Squad.
Before being named township supervisor, he spent time on the Antioch plan commission and the Antioch Arbor Day committee, and served as a township trustee for about two years.
Township officials are working to appoint an interim supervisor to replace Smouse, who won re-election to a 4-year term in April.
Township Trustee Peter Grant and Township Attorney Larry Clark said senior township Trustee Judy Davis will serve in the role until the township board appoints an interim supervisor in the coming weeks. That appointment will remain in place until a special election can be held in 2019.
Grant said he would like to give the township time to mourn Smouse's death, and not rush into any immediate decisions.
"He's a beloved figure in this community, so we need to give careful consideration to whomever it is that replaces him," Grant said. "He cared deeply about his community and should do anything we can to respect his legacy."
Smouse is survived by his wife, Gerianne; his daughter, Casey (Richard) Hafferkamp of Bristol, Wisconsin; siblings, Jerry Smouse, Rick Smouse, Jeff Smouse, and Betsy Smouse; and five grandchildren.
Memorial visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Antioch Township Center, 1625 Deep Lake Road, Lake Villa, with memorial services commencing at 5 p.m.