Philip Rock, Illinois Senate President For 14 Years, Dies


Former longtime Illinois Senate President Philip J. Rock has died at age 78.  Rock's family released a statement saying the Oak Park Democrat died early Friday. No details were released.

Rock spent 14 of his 22 years in the Senate as its presiding officer, from 1979 to 1993.  The Chicago native was appointed chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education in 1999.
Former Illinois Congressman Terry Bruce of Olney served with Rock in the state Legislature. Bruce said Friday that Rock was influential not only as Senate leader but as an education expert and a student of Illinois politics.

In recent years, Rock published his autobiography "Nobody Calls Just To Say Hello."  In an interview with the Illinois Channel, he explained that title.

"I found the higher you go in office, the more is requested of you," he said.  "So that when you get a phone call, it might not be as welcoming or as cheery as a phone call used to be."

Rock was known for being tough, but fair, and his ability to work with Republicans.  He listed his top accomplishment as creation of a school for hearing and visually impaired children in Glen Ellyn, which now bears his name.

"As Senate President, Rock had the unique ability to work with people of all philosophical and political backgrounds," said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, in a statement released Friday.  "This enabled him to establish a common ground and forge compromise, resulting in the passage of legislation designed to improve the lives of Illinoisans."

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin also released a statement Friday.

"Loretta and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and our boss Phil Rock.  Phil was a true public servant in every sense of the word. We were honored to be part of his contribution to our state.”

Rock was a government attorney before he was elected to the Senate in 1970.  Rock and his wife, Sheila, whom he married in 1964, had four children.

Story source: AP