PEORIA, Ill -- The Peoria community is saying goodbye to a legend. Friday night, several hundred people attended a celebration of life for former Peoria Mayor Jim Maloof who died Saturday at the age of 93.
Honored guests spoke of the lessons they learned from Jim Maloof and the lives he touched.
"[Maloof was] somebody with one of the biggest hearts that I've ever met, somebody that touched every in Central Illinois in one way or another either through his business activity, his real estate business, through his activities in politics, in government, in his activities with St. Jude. Jim touched a lot of lives," said Ray Lahood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Maloof served in the Army Air Force during World War II, ran his parents dry cleaning business, and founded Jim Maloof Realtor. And when Peoria's economy hit near rock bottom in 1985, he ran for mayor and served for 12 years.
Representative Aaron Schock said, "The lights are brighter in Peoria because of the life of Jim Maloof and his legacy will live on through the great strength that Peoria has today because of his leadership. "
While he did great work in city hall, Maloof's lasting legacy will forever be his work with St. Jude.
A choked up Nick Maloof, Jim's son, spoke of the day he made Peoria's St. Jude affiliate a reality, "He offered a quiet prayer and the next thing you know he turned around and there was Danny Thomas walking toward him. And he said 'What's the matter?'. He said, 'I need your help Danny. I want to open an affiliate in Peoria and I don't have the votes'. And Danny Thomas said 'you come with me'. They went in that room and Danny Thomas gave the sales pitch of his life and 20 minutes later the St. Jude affiliate in Peoria Illinois, the Midwest Affiliate was born. These were the scissors that were used to snip the ribbon at the Jim and Trudy Maloof St. Jude Midwest Affiliate."
Jim started the St. Jude telethon more than 30 years ago, which has gone on to raise more than $73 dollars. His song will live on in hearts of St. Jude children because of Maloof's life and legacy.