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Former Illinois state representative, Chicago city executive Eugene Barnes dies at 91

Former Illinois state Rep. Eugene Barnes dies
Former Illinois state Rep. Eugene Barnes dies 00:20

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago is remembering longtime Illinois state Rep. Eugene Barnes.

Barnes died Sunday, Nov. 13. He was 91 years old.

Eugene Barnes Wyn-Win Communications

Barnes served four terms in Springfield, representing the South Side of Chicago. He helped form the influential Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, and sponsored the first Illinois Lottery legislation.

As chairman of the state House of Representatives Appropriations II committee, Barnes led the effort to secure funds for the first buildings on the Chicago State University campus. He also authored legislation requiring medical students who received state scholarships to work in medically underserved communities after they graduated.

Barnes resigned his state House seat in 1979, when he was appointed as the first Black board chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority. He was later elected chairman of the American Public Transportation Association.

In 1983, Barnes was appointed commissioner of the city Department of Sewers by Mayor Harold Washington, with whom he had served in the Illinois House.

After his term in government service, Barnes became a lobbyist with the Springfield firm Cook-Witter Inc., and later established his own lobbyist firm, E.M. Barnes & Associates.

Barnes also served as a member of the Illinois Pension Laws Commission.

Barnes was born in Chicago on July 24, 1931, and graduated from Wendell Phillips High School. Actress Marla Gibbs of "The Jeffersons" and "227" fame was among his classmates.

Barnes served in the U.S. Air Force as a private during the Korean War. He earned the rank of sergeant upon being honorably discharged.

He was married to his wife, Melody Lei-Lani Roach, for 42 years until she passed away in 2000. The couple had three children.

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