Take 10: Jim Maloof

One of the area’s best-known leaders, the self-described “little pants presser from Peoria” spent 22 years as president of Maloof Cleaners before founding his multi-million dollar real estate business in 1968. He famously served as mayor of the River City from 1985 to 1997, and has spent a lifetime working with childhood cancer patients, helping to establish St. Jude’s Midwest Affiliate in 1972. Maloof recently added “author” to his long list of accomplishments: Go Help the Children & God Help You offers his life story as inspiration for future community cheerleaders. Read on to learn more about this prominent Peorian.


  1. What are your words to live by? “Love God and love your neighbor.” I try to live by that.
  2. What’s your favorite aspect of central Illinois? The people in central Illinois are in my mind the true Americans of this country. 
  3. What’s your secret ambition? I want to be 100 years old, and I want to be as active and as healthy as I am now at 91.
  4. What was your proudest moment? Without any question, last year when the St. Jude Affiliate opened at the new Children’s Hospital of Illinois and was named in honor of my wife, Trudy, and me.
  5. What’s your greatest fear? To not be able to continue doing what I’ve been doing all my life in making our community a better place and helping find cures for children’s cancer. That would be a huge disappointment.
  6. What was your first car? A light blue 1937 Chevrolet station wagon with white trim. It was my wife’s favorite color.
  7. What was your first job? My first job was in the 7th or 8th grade. My parents were in the rug cleaning and dry cleaning business and I used to have to be home within 15 minutes after school was out so I could dust rugs, block hats or press pants. 
  8. What do you do when you want to relax? Golf. After three years of rehab with a broken neck and having played for perhaps 70 years of my life, I love golf. 
  9. What song always makes you happy when you hear it? “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” I love message songs. This is a song I learned when I was a member of the Orpheus Club in Peoria back in the ‘70s.
  10. What’s some of the best advice you’ve been given? When I became mayor in 1985, my former classmate, Robert Lehnhausen, who was also mayor back in the mid-‘60s, told me to, “Listen, listen, listen.” And that has been something I have lived by.