EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County is mourning the loss of longtime board member Helen Hawkins who died Thursday night after collapsing at the Administration Building.
Hawkins, 89, attended the Planning and Development Committee meeting just prior to collapsing as she was walking to the elevator with a group of people.
Chairman Kurt Prenzler said Hawkins death comes a shock to everyone.
“Helen cares about the people in her community and it’s the reason she was at the meeting,” Prenzler said.
Hawkins, who is not a member of the committee, spoke during the public comment session before leaving.
County Board member Mick Madison and chair of the planning and development committee, said Hawkins was standing by the elevators when she passed out and Capt. Gary Burns with the Sheriff’s Department performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
Madison said Hawkins was a class act who believed in doing the right thing for the people in her district.
“The last thing she did was stand up for people she believed in,” Madison said.
Hawkins served as a County Board member since 2002 and the Nameoki Township Clerk for the past 25 years, as well as a member of the Metro East Sanitary District Board.
Hawkins’ reputation was for speaking out in support of residents in the flood-prone Dobrey Slough area of Granite City.
Her involvement in flooding issues started in 1964 when she moved to the area and she showed constant passion in trying to prevent flooding in homes and businesses.
Hawkins worked with the late Illinois Gov. Richard B. Ogilive who appointed her to a committee in the 1970s to work on a storm outlet plan in and around Horseshoe Lake and the American Bottoms.
Hawkins fought hard to rid the area of the former East Side Levee and Sanitary District and it’s corruption. The District was dissolved by voters in favor of new MESD.
Prenzler said Hawkins was a true public servant.
In January, Hawkins was inducted into the Illinois Senior Citizen Hall of Fame by the Illinois Department if Aging.
Hawkins has consistently shown support for community-based programs in the Granite City area.
Hawkins has chaired special projects and is a member of organizations such as the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary, the AmVets Ladies Auxiliary and the VFW Women’s Auxiliary, in addition to many others.
Hawkins enlisted the Granite City School District in Valentines For Vets, which sends valentines to veterans stationed overseas. Hawkins initiated the program and said her brother and husband were in the service and she knew firsthand how much soldiers appreciate getting that type of communication.
During the ceremony Hawkins told the crowd “Whatever you can do or think you can do: do it. As you get older, don’t slow down.
“Speed up. There’s less time left.”