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Sen. Charles Percy 1919-2011

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 17, 2011 3:50PM

The bigger picture shows Governor Reagan and Sen. Chuck Percy at the opening of Melick Library at Eureka College in 1967. (Image Credit: Art Shay)

A giant of Illinois politics was lost last night with the death of former U.S. Sen. Charles Percy. Mr. Percy had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for many years.

Mr. Percy was elected Senator in 1966, months after the murder of his daughter Valerie - a murder that was never solved. Prior to being elected Senator, Mr. Percy was chairman of film projector company Bell & Howell, a position he assumed at the age of 29 in 1947. Upon his election, Mr. Percy assumed the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Foreign relations Committee.

A moderate Republican, Mr. Percy had Presidential aspirations but they were thwarted by the more conservative elements in the Republican Party at the time, notably President Richard M. Nixon. His Senate career was bookended by defeating one Illinois Democratic icon, Paul Douglas, and losing to another, Paul Simon.