CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Hundreds have taken to social media to share their condolences for Illinois State Senator Scott Bennett, on top of messages coming from colleagues and friends.

Just last week, Jason Hutchinson was messaging his old friend, Scott Bennett on Facebook. That’s where he found out Bennett had passed away on Friday.

He’s devastated, and he’s not the only one hurting.

“We remained close so this was a shock,” said Hutchinson.

“He would just talk and make you feel good and make you laugh,” said friend Bob Flider.

“You never saw him without a smile on his face,” said friend Rush Record.

It’s not hard for friends to talk about their love for Sen. Bennett. It’s much harder to know they’ll never see him again.

Hutchinson met Bennett at Illinois State University. They were resident assistants in the same dorm, and never fell out of touch.

Flider was a former politician who got to know Bennett through his work.

Bennett met Rush Record, executive director of CASA, when they worked on legislation to help children.

All of them had similar descriptions for the man they say went above and beyond for his community.

“He was one of the nicest people you will ever meet,” said Hutchinson.

They say they won’t forget his infectious laugh, jokes, and warm heart, which makes this unexpected loss even tougher. 

“I feel like he was one of my best friends, I think everybody in town thinks he was one of their best friends, I think they feel that way, just because of the kind of person that he was,” said Flider.

Hutchinson says Bennett made everyone he knew feel special 

“He was one of those people everyone wanted to be around,” said Hutchinson.

Flider says the two worked well together.

“I think because of our background and experiences we had a way of bantering back and forth and working together, he had a way of keeping a smile on my face,” said Flider.

Record says Bennett not only worked to support court appointed special advocates but became an advocate himself and helped families on his own time 

“I don’t think he did it because he was a state senator, I think he did it because he wanted to help and that’s the thing about Scott, he just wanted to help people whatever he could do for people whether it was in his role or as just Scott,” said Record.

All of them are thinking back on old memories, something Hutchinson wishes he could have done with Bennett in person. 

They had planned to hang out in the coming weeks, but couldn’t nail down a date because of busy schedules.

“I regret not getting together with him sooner,” said Hutchinson. “His legacy will live on, I loved him and was very proud of him.”

Gov. Pritzker ordred all flags to be flown at half-staff in Bennett’s memory.