A third Peoria County elected official has died during this week.
Peoria County Clerk Steve Sonnemaker died at 6:43 p.m. Friday. Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said Sonnemaker “passed away peacefully surrounded by his dear friends.”
“He was one of the most kindest elected officials I have had the privilege to work with. He will be dearly missed,” Harwood said in a news release announcing Sonnemaker’s death.
Sonnemaker was 66.
Sonnemaker’s passing came one day following the death of Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady, 70, and the death of Peoria County Board member Greg Adamson, 58, Tuesday.
Sonnemaker began his 38-year career with Peoria County as a County Board Member from 1980-1984. Sonnemaker then continued to serve in elected office as County Auditor from 1984-2006 and as County Clerk since 2006.
Sonnemaker was active in the community and honoring veterans. Sonnemaker was Chairman of the World Wars I & II Veterans Memorial Committee which dedicated the memorial in the Courthouse Plaza in 2007 and Chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee that dedicated the memorial to honor those fallen since the Korean War in 2018. Sonnemaker was actively serving on the board of directors for the American Gold Star Families and participated in other organizations including Friends of Fatherless Boys, Kiwanis Club, and the Salvation Army.
“Steve had a big heart, period,” said Patti Smith, president of America’s Gold Star Families.
“He cared deeply about our Gold Star Families. He was a board member the last few years. He attended not only every meeting but every event and he always brought something. He was a behind the scenes guy,” Smith said.
Smith said she had seen Sonnemaker during the last board meeting this past Tuesday.
“I saw him pull into the parking lot in his van and he had oxygen tubes up his nose and behind his ears,” Smith said. “He didn’t make the meeting, but he showed up and had a check that he wanted to give to the organization.”
Sonnemaker served as president of the Illinois Association of County Auditors from 1987-1992, president of the Illinois Association of County Officials from 1998-1999 and executive trustee for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund from 1996-2006.
“Steve embodied the values of compassion, humility, and generosity,” stated County Clerk’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Deluhery. “He will be greatly missed by those whose lives he touched and the community to which he was dedicated.”