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Gary Vachon

9/19/1948 - 12/4/2017

PEORIA ~ Gary Joseph Vachon, 69, of Peoria, passed away at 11:40 p.m. Monday, December 4, 2017 at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

Gary was born September 19, 1948 in Hambleton, WV to Gilford F. and Louise T. (Haddix) Vachon.  He married Mary Sue Crusen on January 24, 1981 at Sacred Heart Church in Peoria. She died Christmas Day, December 25, 2003 in Peoria. He was also preceded in death by his parents.

The Vachon family moved to Illinois when Gary was 2 years old.  Gary grew up in Creve Coeur and enjoyed a “Huck Finn type boyhood” playing in the woods along the Illinois river.

Surviving are four siblings, David (Adelia) Vachon of Williston FL, Susan (Joel) Yerby of Milwaukee, WI, Frances (Karl) Johnson of Southfield, MI and Louis (Janet) Vachon of Washington, and several nieces and nephews – many whom he served as godfather or confirmation sponsor.  Gary diligently researched his family’s genealogy and gifted his nieces and nephews with many details of the family history.  Gary was very proud of his Native American heritage and was devoted to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks.  

Gary was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the United States Air Force and was well known for his dedication to veterans and law enforcement personnel. He was instrumental in promoting the installation of the Vietnam and Korean War Memorial at the Peoria County Courthouse.  Gary served as chaplain of a local VFW chapter.  On Nov 11, 1982, he was honored to read the names of the Vietnam War dead at the National Cathedral in Washington DC for the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were in attendance.

He retired from Caterpillar, Inc. in Mossville in 1999 after over 30 years of service, working as an office service clerk.  Gary was highly regarded as a person who would give good advice and was viewed as a true friend to many.  He was sought out by many in his lifetime as a source of practical and spiritual guidance. His friendship never wavered.  Gary was always willing to help others throughout his life including opening his home to his dear friend and godson, Sean Reising.

Gary was Scout Master of W. D. Boyce Council Troops 10 and 983 and produced 19 Eagle Scouts during his 22 years of service.   

Gary enjoyed singing and playing the piano, of which he had a natural talent to play by ear, and learning the Russian language. He was a published poet and often wrote opinion pieces for the newspaper.  He was in the process of writing a novel.His life’s passion was his marriage to Mary Sue whom he referred to as his “spiritual date for life.”  He also had a lifetime dedication to serving the church through every aspect of his life.  Gary was a renowned cantor with a beautiful singing voice and assisted at Mass for many years at Sacred Heart Church and the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Chapel.  While visiting Rome, he met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.His faith was paramount in his life – Gary often quoted Matthew Chapter 25 ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant” which inspired him throughout his life.

His funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Monday, December 11, 2017 at Saint Philomena Catholic Church in Peoria. Monsignor Michael Bliss will be the celebrant. Visitation will be from 10 to 10:45 a.m. at the church. Burial will be at Hillcrest Memory Gardens in rural Morton, where military rites will be accorded by the United States Air Force and the Tazewell Military Rites Team.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Haitian Hearts, 2727 W. Heading Ave., West Peoria, IL 61604 or OSF Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing, 511 NE Greenleaf St., Peoria, IL 61603 or Boy Scouts of America, 614 NE Madison Ave., Peoria, IL 61603.

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