PEORIA - James J. Heinz, 73, formerly of Peoria, passed away on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Naples, Fla., after a long illness.
Born in February of 1940 in Peoria, Ill., to Archibald J. and Iva L. Heinz, Jim was a proud 1958 graduate of Spalding Institute and a 1962 graduate of the Butler University School of Pharmacy, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Jim had been married since August of 1961 to his high school sweetheart, Janice (Peters) Heinz.
As a young boy, Jim moved with his parents to Creve Coeur to help start Heinz Drug Store. His parents showed him the value of hard work and of being a community leader. He was the very embodiment of "pillar of the community." He was a 30-year business owner; was elected to two terms on the Tazewell County Board and three terms as Groveland Township trustee; and served as Persifer Township supervisor, president of the Central Illinois Pharmaceutical Association, president of the Creve Coeur Jaycees, president of the Creve Coeur Chamber of Commerce, officer in the East Peoria Rotary Club, officer on the Tazewell County Board of Health, board member of the Tazewell County Sight Center, executive board member of the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and treasurer of the Barefoot Beach Club and Boat Club in Bonita Springs, Fla. He had a lifetime of service and organization and leadership.
For a life seemingly filled with conventions and dictated by Robert's Rules of Order, Jim's devilish smirk and flashing blue eyes told those who knew him best that his true unconventional self was in those moments shining through the slats of the daily responsibilities that he otherwise took so seriously. He regaled his children from a very young age with the antics of the Kappa Sig brotherhood at Butler. Even as a boy on his trusty Black Phantom bike, he would frequently be just a couple of feet ahead of trouble while cutting across Rusche's field on the way to the drugstore, or beating the fire engines to an emergency call. Jim's heart soared with adventure, both those he experienced and those he only dreamed about.
He was a huge Indy car and NASCAR fan and had the same seats at the Indy 500 for more than 40 years. He and Janice enjoyed many years with the special people of Holiday Rambler Chapter 119, sharing camping weekends and longer trips across the country. He never met a technological gadget he didn't like, and he finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning his own CAT diesel pusher, better known as the motor home with the rear engine that could go up any mountain road. He and Janice rode in a biplane, built houses with Habitat for Humanity and helped with Hurricane Andrew cleanup. He loved to travel and meet new people and try new things.
They were cruising toward the Panama Canal when he was hit by the stroke 14 years ago that began the long, downward spiral. As dementia started insidiously robbing him of his judgment, he even plotted escapes over the wall at care facilities. He loved life so much that his basic core found it very hard to let go, even when most of the joy of living was gone. As a kid, he lived on hot fudge sundaes and milk shakes from the drugstore soda fountain, as well as popcorn, and he enjoyed many of these simple pleasures to the very end.
Jim is survived by his wife and three daughters, Julie (Michael) Montgomery of Huntington Woods, Mich., Jennifer (James) Scheinz of Helena, Mont., and Jacquey (Bill II) Akers of Morton, Ill.; eight grandchildren, Haley, Hannah, Billy, Madeline, John Franklin, John Heinz, Elijah Bleu and Shaughnessy Ray; his sister, Maribell (Robert) Knickerbocker; and his nephew, Brian, and niece, Anna Knickerbocker of Chesterfield, Mo.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Archibald and Iva Heinz; and his brother-in-law, Robert Knickerbocker.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to Alzheimer Support Network, 660 Tamiami Trail N., Suite 221, Naples, FL 34102, www.alzsupport.net or Stroke Camp, 425 W. Giles Lane, Peoria, IL 61614, www.strokecamp.org.
Memorial services will be held in Peoria, Ill., at a later date (approximately early June).
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