Now a top political consultant, Chris Robling says he considered longtime friend and mentor Don Totten one of the “immortals, a mythical figure” of conservative Republican politics in Illinois when Robling was starting out in the early 1980s.
Totten died Tuesday in North Carolina at the age of 86, and Robling, now 63, prays for the emergence of someone with Totten’s character and political acumen to come to the aid of an Illinois Republican Party in turmoil.
“A Don Totten is just the sort of conservative legend and political force the party needs,” Robling told Prairie State Wire. “He was a man of integrity and principles, but he was also a canny operator who knew how to get things done.”
Totten began his political career as a Schaumburg Township Republican Committeeman. His dedication to conservatism led him all the way to President-elect Ronald Reagan’s transition team. He was later appointed by President Reagan to the International Joint Commission, a body that handles U.S. and Canadian affairs.
Totten also served eight years in the Illinois House and two in the Senate, but his conservative legacy will also live on through his founding of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Washington-based organization of state lawmakers dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism; his membership on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Conservative Union; as president of the National Tax Limitation Committee; and as chairman of the Illinois Tax Limitation Committee.
As well as in his influence over Robling and others continuing to work at keeping conservative principles alive and relevant.
“In Schaumburg, Chicago, Illinois, and across America, we have lost a friend, a neighbor, and a captain of Edmund Burke's ‘little platoons,'” wrote Chicago attorney Joe Morris, a protégé of Totten’s, in a letter to friends that Robling posted on his Facebook page. “He was street-smart and idea-rich, a man with an incisive mind and a gentle sense of humor. He was an American patriot who did all that he did in service to the American people, firmly believing that America is the world's best hope. He once said to me that ‘To be born an American is to be dealt three aces on your very first day.’ And if Don Totten was your friend, you had that fourth ace. May the memory of Don Totten always be a blessing.”
Totten was preceded in death last June by Joyce, his wife of 63 years. Three children survive. A fourth and their first-born, Donna, died from leukemia at age 7.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Ahlgrim and Sons Funeral Home, 330 West Golf Road, Schaumburg, Ill. 60195. More information will be available at www.ahlgrimfuneral.com or by telephone at (847) 882-5580.