Jim Maloof, 'Mr. Mayor', laid to rest

By WEEK Producer

January 26, 2013 Updated Jan 28, 2013 at 12:03 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Just as in life, Jim Maloof was surrounded by people. All that was missing was him singing a song.

"The Maloof family tradition has it that when he was born at Saint Francis hospital when the doctor slapped him on the bottom instead of crying he came out with an aria," said Bishop Daniel Jenky, who read one of four eulogies during the service.

Most of the people who came to the Cathedral of St. Mary to pay their respects knew him as Mr. Mayor, or Jim, or as the man behind establishing the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital affiliate.

Michael Maloof simply knew him as Dad.

"What I marveled at most was there was nothing he didn't think we could do," said Michael, Jim Maloof's eldest son. "That's an attitude. That's a winner's attitude."

That energy and determination is what made Maloof a success at most everything he got involved with.

His three terms as Peoria mayor are still the most ever served. His leadership City Hall helped bring the area back from recession.

Ironically, Maloof's wife, Trudy, tried to discourage him from running for office.

"So, she went to St. Jude Church and made an prayer to St. Jude that he'd lose. And it didn't work," recalled son Nick Maloof. "She did it again four years later and St. Jude wouldn't have anything to do with it."

Maloof did win, and Peoria was better for it.

"And the sheer force of his energy and enthusiasm pulled us out of one of the toughest times our community has ever seen," said friend and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who also eulogized Maloof. "The lights stayed on and Jim encouraged businesses to expand. Jim encouraged businesses to come to Peoria and as a result our community is a better place."

As Mayor Maloof touched lives. Through his work with St. Jude, he also helped to save them.

"That will be his legacy," LaHood said, "that's what we will really remember him for. That's what thousands of children and families will remember him for. And I guarantee you he and Danny Thomas are leading the St. Jude children's choir in heaven today. There's no doubt about it. They're singing up a storm. God bless you, Jim. We love you and we'll never forget you."

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.