Ed Dwyer gone at 93, leaving a legacy in Peoria sports and youth organizations
PEORIA — Ed Dwyer was devoted to kids, to sports and to the central Illinois community.
Chances are if you played, coached, went to a game, or attended a downtown St. Patrick's Day parade, you were connecting to something Ed Dwyer had a hand in.
The Peoria native died at age 93 on Wednesday at Buehler Nursing Home, leaving behind a legacy of volunteerism and memories.
"He loved kids, he'd do anything, everything he could to help them," said Dwyer's son, Mike. "He'd get a lot of money raised for sports endeavors. He was everywhere. And oh, the stories."
There was the time Dwyer, an all-state football player at Spalding, hopped on a flatbed truck with the entire team for transport to a game. The truck tipped over on Main Street in Peoria, sending Dwyer and his friends sprawling.
There was the St. Patrick's Day parade, which Dwyer co-founded.
There were countless appearances on the early morning radio show Royce & Roger.
He'd watch area athletes and write letters to their families praising the players.
"One time, he decided to start a backyard corn and brats cookoff," Mike Dwyer said. "It started with 10 people in our back yard. These guys would just sit around and talk about sports.
"Well the thing just grew and grew, people loved it and kept bringing more people. By the time we did it in the 1980s, we had to rent the Expo and 1,500 people showed up.
"Vonachen Industrial Supply Company paid for all that food. Ed worked there for 60 years."
Dwyer was named to the Neve Harms Meritorious Service Award in 1988, handed out annually by the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame.
He was a charter member of that GPSHOF board. He was president of the Independent Sports Club and put the organization on a mission toward the betterment of youths in sports.
He was the top fund raiser for the Old Timers Baseball Association, and the Spalding and Bergan Booster Clubs, because the ultimate goal was to help youth.
Dwyer was involved in the Friends of Fatherless Boys and Girls Club. He was a founding father of the St. Patrick Society, which was tasked to doing charitable work for youth.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, his sister, Barbara, and is survived by his children, Mike, Rick and Molly, and four grandchildren and 10 nieces and nephews.
He was a WWII Navy veteran, and a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan.
At the time of his death, he had COVID-19. His burial will be private, but the family plans a memorial mass in the future.
Memorials can be made in Ed Dwyer's name to the Pat Goldin Scholarship Fund at Bradley University.
"He was everywhere, he organized bus trips to Cardinals games, he loved University of Notre Dame football and set up trips there, too," Mike Dwyer said. "Some of those trips, he'd have four busloads of people. My dad just loved sports, loved kids and loved being involved in everything he could.
"He was one of those kind of guys that we just don't see anymore."
That's all for Cleve In The Eve on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020:
Here's your sports quote of the day:
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth."
— Muhammad Ali
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.