Reporter, author, outdoorsman and conservationist, Bill Danley, 81, of rural Streator died Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, at 2:30 p.m. at OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, Ill.
A native of Logan County, Ill., Danley was born Nov. 29, 1931, to Alberta Sparks Danley and Creede Danley. He married Peggy Martin June 24, 1951, in Cumberland Presbyterian Church in New Holland; they were married 62 years.
Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m., Monday, Nov. 4 at the Solon-Telford Funeral Home, Streator. Rev. Lon Alderman will officiate.
Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 3 at the funeral home.
Burial will be in St. Andrew of Field's Cemetery, rural Grand Ridge. Pallbearers will be, Dave Danley, Steve Danley, John Danley, Creede Centko, Jesse Danley, Will Centko and Mike Danley.
A graduate of New Holland High School, he earned a journalism degree from Eastern Illinois University in 1954 before embarking on a legendary 15-year career as a newspaper reporter covering the La Salle County police beat for The Times in Ottawa and NewsTribune in La Salle.
He won four top state news service awards including two in feature writing for "The Ballad of Jim Matthews" – a 40-line masterpiece about the man who cold bloodedly executed a young gas station attendant in Streator.
And, as the first reporter on the scene who broke the story to the world about a triple-murder in St. Louis Canyon, he will forever be remembered for his coverage of the Starved Rock murders in 1960. For much of his career as a reporter, he worked alongside renowned editor and friend, Herb Hames of Oglesby.
Danley was a Sea Scout leader in a pilot program of the Illinois Youth Commission and, as president of the Cedar Point School Board, helped create the La Salle County Educational Alliance for Special Education (LEASE).
He was hired by Illinois Valley Community College in 1968 as its first journalism instructor and he resurrected the college newspaper, The Apache.
In 1969, he organized a fund drive by IVCC students that led to the creation of Horizon House, the sheltered care workshop in Peru, and served as its early board president.
He drafted plans for IVCC's 600-seat Cultural Centre, and as its director brought in Chicago City Ballet, National Shakespeare Theatre and such luminaries as mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, author George Plimpton, journalist Sydney J. Harris and Nobel laureate Isaac Singer.
As a 27-year Director of IVCC's Public Information office, he played a vital role in the creation of the IVCC Foundation in the mid-1970s and served as its secretary until his retirement in 1994. Each of his ten children attended IVCC.
In retirement, Danley wrote three books: "Chumsong, The Ballad of Talkin' John," "Keesee of Virginia" and "La Salle and Logan Counties in Song and Story" and was working on a fourth.
In the late 1970s he and his sons built the family homestead on the banks of the Vermilion River northwest of Streator. He lived there the rest of his life coon hunting with friends and raising beagles. He originated the BlueSong strain of AKC Blue tick beagles and was founder and president of the Upper Vermilion River and Lower Egg Bag Creek Tree Hound, Bank Pole and Blank Verse Society.
In 2008, Danley was inducted as a charter member into the IVCC-LPO Hall of Fame.
He is survived by nine children: Becky Antas of rural Streator, David (Paulette) Danley of rural Streator, Steve (Jan) Danley of Murphysboro, Lori Danley of Lake Zurich, Kim (Bruce Horn) Danley of Bloomington, Mary (Pete Shanks) Danley of Charleston, Jane (Anthony) Cruz of Waukesha, Wis., Jenny (Rick Koltveit) Danley of Streator and John (Roseann) Danley of Murphysboro.
In addition, he is survived by 11 grandchidren: Amy Wilson, Creede Centko, Jesse Danley, Emma Danley, Will Centko, Claire Centko, Alix Zelligman, Zoe Zelligman, Kate Shanks, Sophia Cruz and Naomi Hatzer; and a great-grandchild, Wade Centko.
He was preceded in death by daughter, Beth Centko of Streator, in 2011.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed in Bill's name to the Illinois Valley Community College Foundation for Cultural Centre enhancement at 815 N. Orlando Smith Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348.