Robert Ayers
November 26, 2023
11:15 pm

Illinois longtime Senate President James 'Pate' Philip dies at 93

James 'Pate' Philip, the former president of the Illinois Senate, has passed away at the age of 93. 

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Philip, 93, known most commonly in Illinois statehouse politics by the nickname “Pate,” died Tuesday night at his home in Wood Dale after a short illness, with his wife of 46 years, Nancy, at his side.

No further information has been provided about Philip's "short illness." A cause of death has not been reported.

From Elmhurst Illinois, Philip attended York Community High School, Kansas City Junior College, and Kansas State College before being drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps. for the Korean War. He was not deployed.

Before getting into politics, Philip worked as a salesman for Pepperidge Farm, and he continued in this capacity after getting into politics. Philip, in fact, held the job for 38 years until his retirement in 1992, which was shortly before he became the president of the Illinois Senate.

Philip, as a Republican, spent over three decades in the Illinois General Assembly. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Philip entered the Illinois House of Representatives in 1966, representing the state's 37th district.

It was roughly a decade later, in 1974, that Philip ran for a seat in the Illinois Senate. Philip won that seat defeating Democrat Bud Loftus with only a 3.08% margin of victory.

Philip spent time as the assistant minority leader of the Illinois Senate until 1981 when he was chosen to be the minority leader. He became the president of the upper chamber in 1993 after the Republicans won the majority.

Philip held that role until 2003, when the Democrats took back over. This made him the longest-serving Republican Senate president in the state's history. Philip retired from the Senate not long thereafter.

Altogether, Philip spent 36 years in Illinois' General Assembly.

Many Illinois politicians are now paying tribute to Philip.

Jim Edgar - the man who was Illinois' governor during the 1990s - said of Philip:

Pate’ was very loyal to his members. I mean, he would really do whatever it took that he thought to help them get reelected. And of all the leaders, he probably was the most committed to the rank and file.

Philips, expressing his gratitude for his family's decision to leave Germany before World War II, once said, "We are so lucky to be Americans, the greatest country in the history of the world. Is it perfect? No. But, if you can’t make it in America, you can’t make it."

He added, "I don’t care what your color is, what your religion, you are so lucky to be an American."

Written By:
Robert Ayers

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