Harold “Pete” Vonachen Jr., 87, of Peoria, Ill., died June 10.
Born Aug. 31, 1925, in Peoria, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and graduated from Bradley University in 1949.
He began a part-time job running Field House concessions at Bradley University, then moved to Murphy’s in 1954, where he began his restaurant career as a maître’d. In 1955, he opened his restaurant, Vonachen’s Junction.
Mr. Vonachen was general manager and investor in Vonachen’s Hyatt Lodge from 1965 to 1976. From 1978 to 1985, he became general partner and developer for Days Inn Motel in Peoria. He sold his restaurant in 1970 and became president of Peoria Blacktop Inc.
In 1983, Mr. Vonachen purchased the Peoria Chiefs.
He earned a number of honors, including Sporting News Professional Baseball Class A Minor League Executive of the Year, Midwest League Executive of the Year, National Society of Fundraising Executives Philanthropy Award, and Ambassador of Baseball for the State of Illinois.
Mr. Vonachen owned a home on Longboat Key, where he enjoyed vacationing.
Mr. Vonachen was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 50 years, Donna. He is survived by his daughter, Mary Shadid; sons Rocky, Greg, Dan and Mark; sister, Susie Dawson; and 11 grandchildren.
A service was held Friday, June 14.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to St. Thomas Church of Peoria Heights, stthomaspeoria.org, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois OSF, childrenshospitalofillinois.org, or the Vonachen Baseball Scholarship Fund at Bradley University, Bradley.edu.
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