As a native Peorian, I have been familiar with George O. Pasquel food/equipment distribution company for quite some time. It’s been a landmark in South Peoria for more than 75 years. But just four years ago, I got a chance to meet the owner, Pete Pasquel. I was chairperson of a fundraising committee for Southside Community United for Change. We were raising money for our first 5K Walk. I had sent notices to several businesses, including Pasquel’s. One particular day I decided to go in and introduce myself and talk about our fundraising effort. Pete Pasquel was not only patient but spent a lot of time asking me questions about our organization. He thanked me for taking the time to stop in. He made such an impression on me that two years later, I brought a group of high school students to the company for a field trip. The students got much more than they expected. Mr. Pasquel had all kinds of company artifacts, pictures and memorabilia to show students while proudly telling them the history of the family business. He has a wall of fame off from the showroom that is filled with company photos, newspaper clippings and a story to go with each item.
He was especially proud of receiving an award from the Peoria African American Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the African American Hall of Fame Museum in 1992. President Rosemary McCullough said she got to know Pasquel as a teenager when she and her mother went to the company to pick up food he donated to various causes. “He gave behind the scenes. He didn’t want a lot of recognition,” she said.
Peoria Park Board President Robert Johnson agreed. Johnson said Pete Pasquel had a generous heart.
“He donated money to Manual JFL Football, school PTOs and other Southside organizations,” said Johnson.
During our bus trip, Mr. Pasquel told us that he had been retired for several years but still came to work every day to make coffee. Even though that was the story Pasquel told, I found out recently from his son-in-law that Mr. Pasquel would still do a little bit of work. Mr. Pasquel was not only a successful businessman but an outstanding human being. He served on several non-profit boards and was a devoted community activist.
Mr. Pasquel passed away at his home on July 30th. He was 81 years old. His funeral service was held Wednesday, August 11th at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Peoria Heights.
Son-in-law Dan Whitson said Pete Pasquel loved the Peoria community. “One of the pillars of his life was this community, wanting to help and move the community forward. He was always willing to help people when they were struggling,” he said.
Thank you, Mr. Pasquel, for being a leader and serving the Peoria area community.