William Egan Kennedy
William Egan Kennedy
  • November 24, 1920 - November 20, 2017
  • Peoria, Illinois

Share This Obituary

William E. “Bill” Kennedy, age 96, of Peoria, passed away Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 at 9:50 a.m. at Unity Point Proctor in Peoria after a short stay.

He was born Nov. 24, 1920 in Chicago to Daniel and Josephine (Steffen) Kennedy.

Bill graduated from St. Timothy’s Grade School and Lane Tech High School while growing up on Chicago’s North Side. He met Mary Heitman while both worked for the U.S. Ordinance Dept. in downtown Chicago. They would later be married on Oct. 19, 1946 in St. Gregory’s Church in Chicago. They enjoyed 70 years of marriage. Mary was the love of his life! Mary passed away Jan. 30, 2017 in Peoria. He was also preceded in death by his parents, two brothers: Daniel and Joseph “Robert” Kennedy and one sister, Margaret Keyster.

Before their wedding Bill enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and served as a Navigator on B-24 Liberators- nothing electronic in those days; navigation was done with maps, rulers, T-squares, and the stars and sun. Bill flew missions in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Germany. He was with the 15th Air Force and the 446 Bomb group. Bill was shot down over northeast Germany. He was severely injured in the crash. German Infantry took him on horseback to their field hospital where after recovering for several weeks he was transferred to a German prisoner of war camp. He was there from Nov. 1944 to May of 1945. His family knew only that he was missing in action for most of that time. The American Red Cross finally located him and his family was notified. For his valor he received the Purple Heart and the Air Medal (Distinguished Flying Medal).

Following his time in the Military Bill used his GI bill to enroll in Loyola University of Chicago. He graduated second in his class after just two and a half years. Bill and Mary worked at various jobs in Chicago before moving to a new house they had built in Peoria in 1954. This house would remain their home for the rest of their lives. They had one son, Kevin Kennedy in 1957. He survives in Peoria.

Bill worked several years in the Automobile business (Ford) before moving to Caterpillar, Inc. in 1965. He retired in 1990 at the age of seventy. He would have kept working but Mary said “no more, time to relax”.

His one passion in life after his family and his Catholic faith was running- or jogging, as people mistakenly called it way back when Bill began. He ran a pre-determined weekly schedule, no matter the weather or how tired or sore he was. He kept running into his eighties and has shelves of trophies and plaques, including ten for top three finish in the 5K Steamboat Race. He also loved to work on his beautiful front lawn and of course, root for the Cubs.

Bill will be deeply missed by his family and friends. He was a longtime member of St. Philomena’s Catholic Church.

A Funeral Mass will be Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 at 10 a.m. at St. Philomena’s Catholic Church in Peoria. Fr. David Richardson will officiate. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. prior to the services at church. Davison-Fulton Woodland Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Burial will be in Parkview Cemetery in Peoria with Military Honors.

Memorials may be made to St. Philomena Catholic Church.

You may view Bill’s obituary online at www.davison-fulton.com