PEORIA, Ill. -- Thursday's South-West Kiwanis meeting began with a moment of silence.
The meeting was the group's first since the passing of one of their oldest and most beloved members, former Peoria mayor Jim Maloof.
"He joined the club in May of 1958, one year after the club was formed," said Club Treasurer Alan Smith, "and he had been an active member ever since up until last week."
In fact, Maloof was a past president of the chapter, whose members proudly refer to themselves as Dashers (named for the dash in the name South-West).
During his 55 years as one of them he recruited dozens of new members. Dawn Shipman was his last recruit. She joined on Thursday.
"His passion and the desire and the excitement he had for the club just sort of drew me in," explained Shipman. "He brought me to a meeting and it was fun."
Kiwanis Club members are involved in their community and none were more involved than the man the South-West Kiwanis referred to as Mr. Mayor.
In 1982, Maloof convinced his colleagues to sponsor the first St. Jude Run. He got them to print up signs promoting the run and provide other support for what has since grown into a major fundraising effort.
"Jim had a way of convincing us to follow his lead. He expressed what St. Jude did and he asked for our help and we were happy to follow him," said Carol Van Winkle, a member of the South-West Kiwanis.
Despite his failing health Maloof was loyal to the end, as illustrated by his actions immediately after his close friend and former Campaign Manager Don Miller passed away earlier this month.
"Jim called and asked when the visitation was for Don, knowing that (Jim) was so sick," said Club President Larry Colbert. "(Jim) was under hospice care and I don't know if he was calling from the hospital but he wanted to come. They were such good friends that he wanted to honor him. He was just that type of a person."
One that will be sorely missed by his fellow Dashers.