The Peorian


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Peoria Made Personal: Charity Neal, Dawn Silverthorn

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Works at Pettet Jewelry Deigns Ltd.; Lives in Peoria Heights

Charity has been living life in a series of full circles. Born and raised in the Peoria area, her whole family still resides here. "The family business started in what was a chicken coup on Farmington Road. Neal's Auto Parts was founded by my grandfather and uncle, perfected by my father, and then the boys took off and ran with it. Neal's was the first company to utilize a computerized inventory system in Peoria; one of the first few in the country, in fact. I am so proud of them."

"My grandfather was a Peoria Heights police officer and board trustee. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents playing and being a part of the Peoria Heights community." Charity was one of the first to climb the Peoria Height Observation Tower, in 1970. "The tower had no rails at that point, and when I was walking around I looked at my grandmother and said I have to go down now. It was at that very moment that I realized my fear of heights." Her love of Peoria Heights brought her back to live there... "full circle," she says.

Charity Neal is a jewelry designer for Pettet Jewelry. This locally owned jewelry store recently moved to the Pabst building in the Heights. Proud to be behind the counter at The "33" Room, Charity was quick to point out the original can of Pabst Blue Beer sitting on the shelf was designed by Brad Pettet. "Can you believe that Brad designed this can for Pabst and now we have this beautiful jewelry store in the Pabst Building?"... Full circle.

Works at RLI Corp.; Lives in Morton

When Dawn was 19 she had an important choice to make. Living in Henry, Ill., she wanted to move to the city. The choice was Peru or Peoria. She chose "the big city of Peoria."

Peoria was big and intimidating for a girl from such a small town. Sharing an apartment with a friend she was able to venture out and learn more about it. "There was so much traffic and noise." When her girlfriend moved out Dawn felt alone and afraid, but she forced herself to grow and to love this city for what it had to offer — restaurants, attractions, and shopping. "It was fun to shop in the city so many more choices, many more than I was use to."

Dawn worked for the Peoria Chiefs, Vonachan's Restaurant, and now at RLI. She met her husband in Peoria. Once married Dawn moved to Morton, back to small town living but with a big city right down the road.

With son Bryce and daughter Peyton she became very involved in the community. Dawn started the JFL Cheerleading program in Morton while husband Vince was and still is the president of the Morton JFL. A part-time position at Cheer Time USA, a competitive cheerleading group that travels to compete across the country, was a way to spend time with her daughter and flash back to her own high school cheerleading days.

Dawn is comfortable with Peoria now. "It feels like home. I drive into Peoria to work every day, and therefore I still get to enjoy the variety of restaurants, people, and well, yes the shopping; I can find just about anything I want here. I still love shopping in Peoria."

"I still experience the big city feel of Peoria without a long drive, traffic, or being afraid."

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