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Former Illinois Rep. Sangmeister Dies at 76

Former Rep. George Sangmeister (D-Ill.) died Sunday of complications from leukemia. He was 76.

Sangmeister served in the political and government arena for 34 years. Much of that time was spent serving his native Will County, where he held positions such as the state’s attorney, state Representative and state Senator.

In 1977, Sangmeister was diagnosed with cancer. Once recovered, he served in the state Legislature before losing the race for lieutenant governor in 1986. He then was elected to the House for three terms, representing Illinois’ 11th district from 1989 to 1995.

“Classic George Sangmeister, he didn’t wallow in his defeat,” Illinois state Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D) said in a statement. “He said, ‘Let’s move on to the next issue or the next campaign.’ He wasn’t one to feel sorry for himself at all. He was a statesman.”

A Korean War veteran and a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Sangmeister sponsored a 1994 bill designating Dec. 7 as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

He also was responsible for the Joliet Arsenal redevelopment project, which created the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the nation’s first such designated preserve. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), who succeeded Sangmeister, secured funding for the cemetery and arsenal redevelopment.

Sangmeister’s family said in a statement that he “considered it a tremendous honor to have served the public.”

Sangmeister is survived by his wife, Doris; two children, George Kurt Sangmeister and Kimberly Ann Puckett; and four grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Frankfort, with interment at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.

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