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John "Jay" Ackerman

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John "Jay" Ackerman


A state representative from Morton, John "Jay" Ackerman served in the Illinois House for 17 years, retiring in 1999. Ackerman was an outstanding fast-pitch softball pitcher in central Illinois whose start in politics stemmed from his dissatisfaction with the opportunities available for softball in Morton. In an attempt to remedy that situation, he ran for and was elected to a commissioner's seat on the Morton Park District Board, where he served from 1967 to 1975.

During that time, he was instrumental in starting the first ball diamonds at Lions Field in Morton. He then served on the Tazewell County Board from 1972 to 1978 before being elected state representative. He was born on and farmed the Ackerman Centennial Farm in Morton.

Ackerman, 73, died July 23, 2007, in an accident on his farm.

Mildred Arends


Mildred Arends served as Peoria city treasurer for 34 years. She also taught at Franklin School and worked as a travel agent. She was very active in several community organizations, including the Peoria Historical Society, Peoria County Republican Women, the Peoria Symphony Guild, the Opera Illinois board, Lakeview Museum and Neighborhood House.

Arends, 87, of Peoria died July 28, 2007, at her residence.

Ruth Davis


The founding president of the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive Association, Ruth Davis also was a longtime community leader and historian. She served as vice president of the Fulton County Historical Society, worked for the Red Cross, was active in the Unitarian and Federated Church and Portia Club, and served on the District 15 and Illinois State boards of the Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs. She also was a board member of the prison reform organization the John Howard Society, for which she visited and reviewed conditions at prisons and jails throughout Illinois. She was named an Outstanding Woman of Illinois by the governor during that period.

Davis, 89, of Avon died March 8, 2007, at Galesburg Cottage Hospital.

Wayne Downing


In 1993, Gen. Wayne Downing was appointed to the rank of four-star general and assigned as commander in chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command. In that role, he led the nation's 46,000 Special Operations soldiers, sailors and airmen. Highly decorated by his nation and many of its allies, Downing retired from active duty in 1996.

He began his 34-year career in the Army by leading soldiers in his first assignment as a platoon leader in Company B, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Okinawa. He served in Vietnam before moving on to many assignments in infantry, armor, Special Operations and joint units, including several years with the Ranger regiment. Widely recognized as the father of the modern Rangers, Downing demonstrated the organizational skill and technical refinements during this time that would have far-reaching effects on the future successes of the Rangers and of U.S. Special Operations Forces in general.

After retiring from the Army, he served as a member of the National Commission on Terrorism. He was chairman and founder of the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Downing, 67, of Peoria Heights died July 18, 2007, at Proctor Hospital in Peoria.

William Fielding


William Fielding was an advocate for people with disabilities. He worked on several boards, including the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities of Illinois and the State-Wide Independent Living Counsel while working for the state of Illinois as an independent living specialist, client assistance program manager and, later, as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission officer in Springfield. He then moved to Peoria and worked as the executive director for the Central Illinois Center for Independent Living. He also volunteered with the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District Board, Easter Seals and the Senior Citizen Commission. After retiring, he became self-employed at Fielding Consultants.

Fielding, 52, of Peoria died March 21, 2007, at Methodist Medical Center.

Dan Fogelberg


Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg had his heyday in the 1970s and early '80s, when he scored several platinum and multiplatinum records, fueled by such hits as "The Power of Gold" and "Leader of the Band," a touching tribute he wrote to his father, a music teacher at Woodruff High School. The Peoria native put out his first album in 1972. His hits, including "Same Old Lang Syne," helped define the soft-rock era.

Later in his career, he wrote material that focused on the state of the environment, an issue close to his heart. His last album was 2003's "Full Circle," his first album of original material in a decade.

Fogelberg, 56, died at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer.

DeWayne "Swede"



A charter member of the Peoria Officials Association Hall of Fame, DeWayne "Swede" Gailliaert officiated for four decades. He worked the state baseball finals five times and was once named Umpire of the Year by the Illinois high school coaches association. He was an Illinois High School Association certified official in four sports.

Gailliaert, 81, of Peoria died June 27, 2007, at Fondulac Woods Nursing Home in East Peoria.

Ron Ghidina


Pekin native Ron Ghidina was known by many as the area's best golfer since the legendary Gus Moreland. Ghidina won the 1973 Illinois State Amateur, seven Peoria Men's City titles and two Senior City titles.

He was named the Tri-County Sports Figure of the Year in 1970 and in 2000 was inducted into the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame.

Ghidina was involved with the Peoria Cursillo movement for more than 20 years and also worked with TEC and prison ministry.

Ghidina, 70, died in his Peoria home on July 29, 2007.

Marvin Goodman


In 1971, Marvin Goodman founded the Metro Centre, a family-owned and -operated shopping center. He was also known for reaching out to the community by giving grants through a private family foundation and sponsoring community events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, named for his daughter, who died of breast cancer in 1980. He was a member of the IVY Club, and he was an avid boater and active in many philanthropic activities.

Goodman, 90, of Palm Beach, Fla., formerly of Peoria, died May 31, 2007, at Proctor Hospital.

Jerry Hadley


Raised in Manlius and a graduate of Bradley University, Jerry Hadley was an internationally known tenor. Hadley created the title role in composer John Harbison's "The Great Gatsby" at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as the lead in Paul McCartney's "Liverpool Oratorio." Leonard Bernstein chose him to sing the main part in a 1989 production of Bernstein's musical "Candide." He won four Grammy Awards and one Emmy Award for his work as an opera singer.

Hadley, 55, died at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., July 18, 2007, after a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

in the World Championships and Pan American Games and played professionally in Europe, South America and the United States for 15 years.

She was inducted into the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983. She was a Kodak all-American and finalist for the Wade Trophy, which honors the nation's top female basketball player.

In 2001, almost 24 years after she finished her playing career, she returned to Illinois State University to complete degrees in program management and recreation and parks. She then worked as program director at the George Washington Carver Community Center from 1996 until her death.

Lewis, 52, died Sept. 17, 2007, at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., after eme

Published in Peoria Journal Star on Dec. 30, 2007
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