Pillars of Our Community

by Jan Wright, Publisher

For the second year, iBi pays tribute to some familiar faces. Twenty-five years ago—when this magazine got its start—they were in the prime of their professional careers. A quick search on peoriamagazines.com can attest to their influence, with numerous interviews and repeated references to their leadership over the years. They’ve been pillars of our community, making it a little better with each and every activity in which they get involved.

A long-time friend, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, once said to me that the best thing you can do for your family, business and community is to “show up.” Show up—and participate in the things that are important to you and those you care about. Certainly, Ray lives by these words himself, as he has “showed up” for me and my family many times—as emcee at 40 Leaders Under Forty, as a tour guide in Washington D.C., as a business consultant, and at hospital bedsides, funerals, weddings, engagements and ribbon cuttings.

Those we honor in this issue as Local Legends also “show up.” Of course, they do much more than that. These remarkable individuals have unique backgrounds and interests, but all have been deeply involved in the causes, projects and organizations that have made our community what it is today. I have served on boards and committees with many of them, and listen with interest when they offer their opinions. Through the years, as through the stages of life, their focus has perhaps changed a bit, but these life experiences have guided them to give back to our community.

Often from humble beginnings, their success stories are truly models for each of us. From mentoring children to beautifying the community through public art, from political campaigns to fundraising efforts to standing up courageously against entrenched racism, the many marks they have made on our community reach far and wide.

One purpose for honoring these Local Legends is to encourage young professionals and today’s community leaders to learn more about the contributions of those who paved the way for them. As we have learned to say, “Thank you for your service” when greeting a soldier in uniform, we can say, “Thank you for your leadership in our community.”

To John Bearce, to Bud Grieves, to Gene and Harriett Swager, to Kathryn Timmes and to Jay Vonachen, thank you for sharing your lives with us. You have truly made a difference. Our community would not be the same without you.

PS: If you'd like to attend the Local Legends reception on July 9th, call (309) 683-3060 or visit peoriamagazines.com/events. iBi