Former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III of Illinois died at the age of 90 on Monday, his son said. File Photo by Marion S. Trikosko/Wikimedia Commons
Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III, a member of a prestigious Illinois political family, has died, his family said. He was 90 years old.
His son Adlai Stevenson IV told the Chicago Sun-Times his father had dementia and "just faded away" at his home in Chicago on Monday.
Stevenson III was born the eldest of three sons in Chicago on Oct. 10, 1930. His father, Adlai Stevenson II, served as governor of Illinois and won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1952 and 1956, while his grandfather, Adlai Stevenson, served as vice president alongside Grover Cleveland.
His father said the family had a bad case of hereditary politics and Stevenson III's political career began when he served in the Illinois House and as a state treasurer in the 1960s before he won a special election in 1970 to replace Sen. Everett Dirksen, who died in office.
"It was ordained at birth that I would go into a life of public service," he said following his election. "The question was never 'whether' -- it was always 'when' and 'how.'"
While serving in the U.S. Senate, Stevenson III challenged President Richard Nixon's prosecution of the Vietnam War and sought to hold him accountable for the Watergate scandal.
"All of us -- Republicans and Democrats -- have an interest in clearing the record," he said a year before Nixon resigned. "The faith of the people in their system and their leaders -- a faith that has already been shaken enough -- is at stake."
Along with his 10-year career in the Senate, Stevenson III launched failed bids to secure the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 and 1980.
He also went on to run for governor of Illinois in 1982 and 1986 but lost to Republican James Thompson in both races before ending his political career.