He’s being remembered as a man who didn’t like to make the political rounds and someone who expanded Democratic party leadership in the state Senate -- Philip Rock passed away last week at the age of 78.
Ed Wojcicki co-authored a book with Rock titled “Nobody Calls Just to Say Hello” and tells WMAY Springfield how the book came about.
Wojcicki said Phil didn’t think there would be any interest in his story until he thought about his grandchildren.
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“He said to me,” Wojcicki recalled, “‘you know what, my wife said my grandchildren are gonna wonder what the heck I was doing in Springfield all those years so what would a book look like if we did one?’ And I guess it took off from there.”
One thing Rock did in Springfield was expand Democratic leadership positions.
“More blacks were getting elected,” Wojcicki said, “and particularly from Chicago some from the metro-east area. They formed a caucus and they said they wanted a person on the leadership team and so Phil just said fine. You can put whoever you want on there.”
Meanwhile Wojcicki said Rock was very concerned about abused and neglected children and worked to get bipartisan support for codifying domestic abuse reporting.
Wojcicki also said Phil wasn’t someone who would make the political rounds but instead would be reserved at various gatherings.
Longtime political insider and aid to several governors Jim Nowlan said, politics aside, Rock was a guy who wanted what’s best for the people.
“He wasn’t a boss in style,” Nowlan said. “He was a collaborator. He could be tough when he had to in leading his Democratic troops in the state Senate but he always had his eye on what he thought would be best for the people.”
“So many folks today are so angry with government.” Nowlan said. “Phil was the opposite. He believed in government as an instrument for doing good. And while we know that sometimes government falls short, Phil Rock was one who wanted to make the most of the Democratic governmental process.”
Current Senate President John Cullerton said Rock took him under his wing and showed him the ropes. Cullerton also said Rock was the most articulate orator he’s ever served with.
“Phil Rock was ... unafraid to take unpopular stands for equality and justice,” Cullerton wrote, “yet well versed in the necessity of bipartisanship.”
Rock served as Senate President for 12 years.
The Chicago Tribune reports a funeral mass for Rock is scheduled February 11th at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago.