Leslie "Les" Conkling of Kempton, a former Ford County educator, coach and state representative, passed away on Tuesday.
The 82-year-old was a lifelong Republican. Friends and colleagues are remembering him as a genuine public servant who placed people before politics.
Ford County Republican party Chairman Tom Bennett said "He (Les) really was focused on the public and good government. he was the heart and soul of a lot of things that were going on in Ford County."
Bennett added, Les will be missed by a lot of people.
Conkling capped his political career as an Illinois state representative from 1991 to 1993 for the old 87th legislative district. But his ascension to the statehouse was preceded by a long record of public service in numerous roles.
He served as Ford County's Republican Party chairman from 1978 to 1998, the Kempton village board and fire department for more than 30 years, and retired in 1990 after a 30-year career in education as a teacher, coach and principal for both the Kempton-Cabery and Tri-Point School districts. He was the first principal for Tri-Point's newly consolidated high school in 1969.