Former Sen. Adlai Stevenson III Dies at 90

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
September 8, 2021 Updated: September 8, 2021

Former Illinois Sen. Adlai Stevenson III, a Democrat, has died at the age of 90, his family has confirmed.

His son Adlai Stevenson IV said the Illinois Democrat had passed away at his North Side home in Chicago on Monday, and added that he had dementia.

“He just faded away,” his son told the Chicago Sun Times.

His wife of 67 years, Nancy, said the cause of death was Lewy body dementia. Stevenson is survived by Nancy and their two sons, Adlai IV and Warwick; two brothers, John and Borden; and nine grandchildren.

Stevenson III seemed almost destined for a great political career, and was the great grandson of former Vice President, Adlai Stevenson, while his father, Adlai Stevenson II, was a former Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate.

He graduated from Milton Academy, Harvard College and Harvard Law School and served with the Marine Corps in Korea and was discharged as a captain from the Marine Reserves in 1961.

He served two years in the state House of Representatives and one term as state treasurer from 1967 to 1970.

In 1970, Stevenson won a special election to the U.S. Senate after Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen died in office. When running for the Senate, Stevenson asked then-Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley for advice.

“My advice to you is don’t change your name,” Daley told him, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Stevenson won re-election in 1974, but decided not to run again in 1980 and instead stepped aside in January 1981 for fellow Democrat Alan Dixon, who won the November election.

The late senator ran for governor of Illinois twice; first in 1968, when he lost to then-Mayor Richard J. Daley, and again in 1982, which saw him lose by just by less than 1 percentage point—5,074 votes—to Republican Gov. James R. Thompson, making it the closest Illinois election for governor in modern state history.

Following the narrow loss, Stevenson did not seek office again and instead focused on a career in the private sector, particularly on U.S.-Asian business relations. He held the position of president of the U.S. Committee of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, and was former co-chair of the East Asia Financial Markets Development Project. He was also a former president and chairman of the Japan America Society of Chicago.

He also became an author, writing “The Black Book”, which “records American politics and history as his family knew it over five generations of active engagement, starting with Abraham Lincoln in central Illinois,” according to GoodReads.

Before he passed away, Stevenson III continued to live a politically active lifestyle, and would often organize presentations and speakers for the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy in Libertyville, Illinois, according to the Sun-Times. He also worked on his family’s farm in Hanover, Illinois.

In a statement, Gov. J.B. Pritzker called Stevenson a “rare individual” for earning both the Illinois Order of Lincoln honor from the governor and the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Emperor of Japan in one lifetime.

“Whether in elected office, in the Marines or in non-profit work, Adlai Stevenson III lived each of his 90 years as an example of public service. His commitment to global exchange is as evident here in Illinois as it is abroad,” Pritzker said.

“Most markedly, Sen. Stevenson’s pursuits were anchored in a passion for democracy. As the first chairman of the modern Senate Ethics Committee and later in his work in global development, his commitment to bringing people into politics transcended international borders.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, also paid tribute to his “friend and partner in countless causes over the years.”

He wrote on Twitter, “Like his father before him, Adlai was most at home in the cerebral world of politics. His most effective ally in retail politics was his beloved wife, Nancy. The two were inseparable and one of the best teams in Illinois Democratic politics. Adlai was my friend and partner in countless causes over the years. Loretta and I send our love and sympathy to Nancy and the family.”

Reuters contributed to this report

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.