Monday, February 7, 2011

Leading expert on Illinois politics

Samuel K. Gove, 87, a leading authority on Illinois state politics and director emeritus of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, died Friday, Jan. 28, in an Urbana hospital, according to his family.
Mr. Gove had recently been hospitalized after suffering a fall, said his nephew Stephen Gove. His health deteriorated while in the hospital due to injuries and other complications.
Over the last 60 years, Mr. Gove established himself as a respected scholar and adviser in local and state politics. He joined the Institute of Government and Public Affairs as a research assistant in 1950, became professor of political science in 1961, and was named director of the Institute in 1967.
Between 1957 and 1982, Mr. Gove organized 17 statewide assemblies on various issues facing the state. The 1962 assembly set in motion the drive for the 1970 constitutional convention.
"He was really Mr. Illinois and universally respected in our state, both in academia and in government for his many contributions," said Robert F. Rich, the institute's current director.
As director of the legislative staff intern program from 1962-73, Mr. Gove nurtured the careers of several future political leaders, including former Gov. Jim Edgar, Judge Wayne R. Andersen, state Sen. Kirk Dillard and former U.S. Rep. Terry Bruce. He also served on transition teams for Govs. Dan Walker and Edgar.
"Sam was one of my mentors," Edgar said. "If it hadn't been for Sam Gove, there may not have been a legislative intern program and that was my entry" into public service.
Mr. Gove was also founding chairman of the influential Illinois Issues magazine, and he served on the magazine's advisory board for 28 years.
"Sam was an institution in and around the state Capitol, where he was viewed by lawmakers as Mr. Good Government," said James Nowlan, a former state legislator and longtime friend.
Mr. Gove was born in Walpole, Mass., on Dec. 27, 1923, to Minnie L. and Chester B. Gove. In a 2007 university interview, Mr. Gove said he grew up in a family that took civic responsibility seriously.
"So we understood when the elections were and who was running and how the electoral process worked," he said. "As kids we would go to the town meeting and see government working in action."
Mr. Gove attended Massachusetts State College from 1941-43 and served during World War II as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He received his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts in 1947, and earned a master's degree in political science from Syracuse University in 1949.
In the 1960s, Mr. Gove was a major player in the effort to draft a new constitution for Illinois. At the time the state was still operating under its 1870 constitution.
He was appointed by the governor and the president of the Illinois Senate to various study commissions to lay the groundwork for the constitutional convention. He later led the effort to produce a book series that chronicled the effort to draft and adopt the new 1970 constitution.
He co-wrote or edited more than a dozen books and a hundred articles. His first major co-written book, "Legislative Politics in Illinois," was published in 1960. He later collaborated on two books on the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention. He co-edited another highly acclaimed book, "After Daley, Chicago Politics in Transition," published in 1982, six years after the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley. His last book, "Illinois Politics: A Citizen's Guide," appeared in 2010.
Mr. Gove spent summers at his cabin in Pentwater, Mich., where he had many friends. Cocktail parties on the deck of his home overlooking Lake Pentwater were legendary among his many friends throughout Illinois.
He is survived by three nephews and two nieces.

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