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State Rep. Mark Beaubien Jr. collapses at Arlington Park, dies

Illinois Rep. Mark Beaubien R-Waucondspeaks with reporters while House floor during sessiIllinois State Capitol Springfield Ill. Friday Jan. 7 2011.

Illinois Rep. Mark Beaubien, R-Wauconda, speaks with reporters while on the House floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Friday, Jan. 7, 2011. ( AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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Updated: July 15, 2011 12:06AM

SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Mark Beaubien Jr., a seven-term Republican from Barrington Hills whose heritage dates back to one of Chicago’s earliest settlers, died Sunday.

Rep. Beaubien, 68, collapsed while attending a House Republican fund-raiser at Arlington Park racetrack.

“Mark Beaubien dedicated his life to service and making his community a better place,” said Gov. Pat Quinn in a statement. “As a state representative, he served the people of the 52nd District with integrity and fortitude, and his sudden passing is a tremendous loss.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to Mark’s wife Dee and their two sons on this sad day.”

House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) said: “He is loved around the Capitol for his brilliance, attention to detail, and ability to work with all legislators on very important issues facing our state. I will miss Mark deeply.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Rep. Beaubien had remained active in Springfield up until his death despite fighting off a serious case of pneumonia in April that left him hospitalized.

He returned to Springfield in early May to pass what would be his last piece of legislation, a motorist-safety bill requiring all backseat passengers to wear safety belts. The measure passed the Senate and is now on Quinn’s desk.

Rep. Beaubien was the great-great-great-grandson of Mark Beaubien, who came to what is now Chicago in 1826 and opened the region’s first tavern, the Sauganash. When the city’s residents decided to incorporate in 1833, they voted to do so at the Sauganash, which was near the modern-day intersection of Lake and Wacker.

Profiled by the Chicago Sun-Times in 2004 as a living link to Chicago’s earliest days, Rep. Beaubien was humble about his family history when asked if it made him proud.

“Proud? No, not proud, really. It’s a little historically interesting, that’s all,” he said. “Every generation has to live and survive on its own. I don’t like guys who go around saying, ‘I’m a Rockefeller, I’m a Kennedy.’ ”

For many years, Rep. Beaubien was the House Republican point person on budget matters, which was a perfect fit given his experience as a former banker. He was a fiscal conservative, voting with fellow Republicans against Quinn’s 67 percent income tax hike in January.

But his social views were far more moderate, sometimes putting him at loggerheads with the conservative flank of the GOP.

Last November, he was among only a handful of Republicans who voted to recognize civil unions in Illinois. Rep. Beaubien delivered a moving floor speech in April 2010 to congratulate Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) for her announcement on the floor that she intended to engage and marry her then-girlfriend, Christin Baker.

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