Born: August 31, 1925
Died: June 10, 2013
PEORIA - Harold A. “Pete” Vonachen, Jr., 87, of Peoria passed away at noon, Monday, June 10, 2013, at Christian Buehler Home.
Pete was born August 31, 1925, in Peoria, to Dr. Harold A. and Bernice (Verner) Vonachen. He married Donna J. Hurst on May 11, 1957, in Peoria. She preceded him in death on March 25, 2007.
He was also preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Jack and Tom; and sisters, Mary Ann, Bobbie, and Marta.
He is survived by his daughter, Mary “Mikie” Shadid; sons, Rocky, Greg (Kathy), Dan (Jennifer), and Mark (Amy); as well as, his sister, Susie (Jim) Dawson of Decatur. He is also survived by eleven grandchildren, Megan Vonachen, Lauren Shadid, Abby Vonachen, Erica Vonachen, Claire Vonachen, Michelle Vonachen, Druschel Vonachen, Olivia Vonachen, Jabe Vonachen, Natalie Vonachen, and Jac Vonachen.
Pete served in the United States Navy during World War II. When he returned home, he attended Bradley University until he graduated in 1949.
He began a part-time job running Field House concessions at Bradley University, and then moved to Murphy’s in 1953, where he began his restaurant career as a maître’d. In 1955, Pete opened Junction City and started his restaurant known as Vonachen’s Junction.
From 1965 to 1976, Pete served as the General Manager and Investor in Vonachen’s Hyatt Lodge. In 1978, he became General Partner and Developer for Days Inn Motel in Peoria until 1985. In 1970, Pete sold the restaurant and became president of Peoria Blacktop Inc.
Vonachen’s baseball career began in 1983 when he purchased the Peoria Chiefs.
Pete’s lifetime achievements consisted of Commodore and Board of Directors for Illinois Valley Yacht and Canoe Club, president of Peoria Pacers College Baseball Team, director of Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame, director of Peoria Cerebral Palsy Board, board member of St. Thomas Parochial School Board, president and member advisory board for OSF St. Francis Medical Center, vice-president and trustee of Peoria Park District, chairman of Liquor Commission for city of Peoria, member of State of Illinois Recreational Advisory Committee, board member of Bradley University Chiefs Club, honorary member of Bradley University B-Club, director and president of Peoria Mobile Medic Ambulance Co, member of board of trustees for Bradley University, chairman of Salvation Army Tree of Lights, honorary chairman of Children’s Miracle Network Telethon at Children’s Hospital of Illinois, board member for Children’s Hospital of Illinois, member of Ivy Club, member of Peoria Country Club, and member of Independent Sports Club.
He was awarded the Neve Harms Meritorious Service Sports Award in 1979, inducted into the Greater Sports Hall of Fame in 1979, awarded the Bradley University Distinguished Alumni Award in 1985, Sporting News Professional Baseball Class A Minor League Executive of the Year in 1985; Midwest League Executive of the Year in 1985; Tri-County Sports Figure of the Year in 1985; Bradley University Centurion in 1986; University of Notre Dame Man of the Year in 1988; Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame in 1988; Caterpillar Community Service Award; Salvation Army “Other” Award in 1991; Lewis Burger Outstanding Volunteer Fundraising Award in 1992; National Society of Fundraising Executives Philanthropy Award in 1992; Bradley University Sports Hall of Fame in 1994; Robert H. Michael Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002; Ambassador of Baseball, State of Illinois, Chicago Pitch and Hit Club Award in 2005; Lions Club Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008; and Lifetime Achievement Award for J.J. Anderson Basketball Camp in 2009.
The Vonachen family would like to thank Pete’s nurses (Maureen, Karen, Candi, Linda, Katherine, Carol, Brigid, Rosie, and Kasey) who cared him over the past 2.5 years, as well as, Buehler Home who cared for him the last few weeks of his life. Pete was a stranger to none and a friend to all.
Visitation services will be held at Northwoods Community Church, 10700 N. Allen Road in Peoria, from 3-9pm on Thursday, June 13, 2013. Visitation services will also be held from 11-1 p.m., Friday, June 14, 2013, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 904 E. Lake Ave, in Peoria Heights. A funeral Mass will follow at 1pm at St. Thomas. Vonachen will be laid to rest at Resurrection Cemetery and Mausoleum in Peoria.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Thomas Church in Peoria Heights, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois OSF, or the Vonachen Baseball Scholarship Fund at Bradley University.
Tributes and condolences may be submitted to www.wrightandsalmon.com.