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The McCord legacy will live on

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 As our regular readers know, one of our missions of this website and its sisters, the magazine and television show also named The Peorian, is to celebrate Peoria.

When we say that, we don't refer to only Peoria the city. We don't mean only the region that is commonly referred to as Peoria. We go well beyond boundaries and streets, bricks and mortar; we look also into the hearts and souls of its people.

Peoria is filled with big pocketbooks and big hearts and it has a nice number of people who have both. They are the ones who give back; they give back to the community that raised them, the community they love, the community they want to see be even better.

A few have made recent headlines, including Gary and Carlotta Bielfeldt and their wonderful $1 million donation from the Bielfeldt Foundation to the Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum. Glen and Polly Barton for paying for the new entrance to the Peoria Zoo and Children's Museum, called Barton Pavilion.

A few days ago Peorians gathered to honor Jim Maloof on his 93rd birthday and it was a testament to the number of people that man has touched through his own generosity as well as his commitment to St. Jude that a whole community would do that.

For many years this community and its residents have felt the generosity and care of the McCord family, either from family members themselves, from their company Illinois Mutual or both. From Robert McCord to his son Michael McCord and now his children, this family has always looked for ways to give back. There probably isn't a charity in Peoria that hasn't benefitted from the McCords.

They give generously of their time, as well, serving as leaders on many different boards and commissions in the city and helping shape each into productive organizations and do so with little fanfare.

Peoria lost one of its leaders Wednesday night. Michael McCord lost his battle with cancer. He was 68.

He was one of the pushers behind the new Peoria Riverfront Museum, serving on its board of directors. His death came just three days before the museum's opening.

He was one of the drivers of Bradley University's recent capital campaign that is changing the look of the university and making it more appealing to more people. He was chairman of its board of directors.

Michael McCord was the most recent recipient of the Tom Connor Award for Community Service. That alone tells you of his love for the community as that award isn't simply handed out. While it was well-timed in this case it was probably late in coming.

Not many knew McCord was ill. One person told me that was pretty much the way he preferred it. It was known among his friends and the trustees at Bradley but not many beyond that, he said.

I didn't know Mike McCord well. He was always cordial the few times we spoke. But he was one of those people you respected; perhaps because of what he did for the community, because of the way he handled himself.

We will mourn the man but we will now celebrate his legacy, one which his children will undoubtedly continue.

Paul Gordon is editor of The Peorian. He can be reached at 692-7880 or


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).