Party planned for Jim Maloof

DeWayne Bartels
Jim Maloof, third from left, will be the guest of honor at a birthday party next month. The event is being hosted to raise funds for the Peoria Ballet

On Oct. 18, Peoria icon Jim Maloof turns 90.

Zan Ransburg, a friend of Maloof’s for more than 20 years, wants to make sure his birthday is an unforgettable event. She is the event chair for Maloof’s birthday party, which will benefit the Peoria Ballet.

She said it will be quite an event, Oct.  19, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, with a capacity of 800 people, and a half-hour performance by the Peoria Ballet.

“Of course, Jim is going to sing,” she said, laughing. “He will obviously take the microphone.”

Some fans

Maloof, the founder of Maloof Realty, a former Peoria mayor and, with actor Danny Thomas, the co-founder of the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate in Peoria has quite a history in this area — and a fan base.

“He speaks his mind. He loves people. And, he’s committed to community service,” Ransburg said listing off as some of the traits that endear Maloof to her.

“You don’t stop Jim from doing anything he wants to do.”

Ransburg said one of the marks Maloof has left on Peoria is not a monument made of steel or concrete. She said it is a mind set.

“I think for years he has made people see anything is possible, even in bad times. He’s an institution,” she said.

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy, a friend of Maloof’s since 1963, agreed.

“His greatest ability is to rally people, his ability to see good in a cause and the ability to see important things and make  people see why those things need attention,” McCoy said.

“While mayor, when people were leaving Peoria in droves, he stood up to show us Peoria could be a vibrant community.”

Of course, in doing so Maloof has stepped on many toes.

“I still think he has more friends than enemies. I don’t know that he would change a thing about his life. I think he’s led a rich and rewarding life. He stepped to the plate and hit a home run. He’s ornery, stubborn and so loved. He’ll be that forever.”