Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon of Illinois has died.
His son Jeffrey Dixon said the 86-year-old died Sunday at his home in Fairview Heights. He had recently been hospitalized for heart problems, but his condition had improved and he had returned home.
"My father cared deeply about people and was committed to public service for more than four decades," said Dixon's son, Jeff Dixon. "He was known and respected for his ability to work together with people of varied ideologies and political affiliations. He believed in the spirit of cooperation and compromise."
Dixon served in the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 1993. He also had a long career in state politics, serving in the Illinois House, Illinois Senate and as the state's treasurer and secretary of state.
He lost the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat in 1992 to Carol Moseley Braun. She was the first African-American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
"Alan Dixon was one of a kind. A great leader and representative who always put the public's interests first," Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said in a statement Sunday. "He was a great friend."
The Belleville-born Dixon was an attorney.
His memoir titled "The Gentleman from Illinois" was published in 2013.
"From his days as a Police Magistrate in Belleville to his leadership position in the United States Senate, Alan Dixon was known for his honesty, his hard work and his commitment to the state he loved," U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said in a statement. "I lost a pal today and Illinois lost a man who brought honor to public service."
"Alan Dixon had a patriot's determination to do what was best for his state and nation," Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement. "He was a statesman, but he was also a warm and friendly soul who never met a stranger."
Dixon is survived by his wife Jody and their three children -- Stephanie, Jeffrey and Elizabeth. He also had eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements at Lindenwood University in Belleville are not yet complete.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.