St. Paul's Church, Pekin, Illinois
Loving God, Loving People, and Making Disciples
August 3, 2010

In the Spotlite

George Beres

George Beres has led a fulfilling life. Gifted with a beautiful baritone singing voice, he has used his talent to grace the lives of others. In addition to performing with numerous choirs for more than 60 years, he has sung at countless weddings and funerals. Former parishioner Mary Louise Walker, who now lives in Lenexa, Kansas, still remembers his beautiful solo, "In the Garden," at her husband Bill’s funeral at St. Paul’s in 1987.

George is one who discovered his passion early in life and pursued it. Today, he is the only original remaining member of Pekin Civic Chorus which started in 1953 and since 1979 has performed with the Orpheus Club twice each year. As to where he got his musical talent he can’t say, however his maternal grandfather was a fiddler. He credits Oscar Winkel for teaching him how to read music. "I couldn’t read a note. I sat next to him (in the church choir), and he helped me immeasurably."

Those were the glory days for the choir at St. Paul’s. George remembers the pews as always being full, the senior choir on one side and the junior choir on the other. By the eighth grade, he was taking lessons from choir director Marjorie Schaefer. As a freshman, he sang in the Glee Club at the University of Illinois, and after he transferred to Bradley, he was student conductor of both the Glee Club and a cappella choir his senior year.

George was baptized at All Saints’ Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria, but in 1937, he and his parents began to attend St.Paul’s. With gasoline in short supply during the war years, many from the Orthodox Church found St. Paul’s a good alternative.

From the age of 10, George manned the cash register at his dad’s candy shop. Who doesn’t remember the Princess Candy Kitchen – that favorite high school hangout at 402 Court Street? Back then, the Princess had the most-used phone number in town!

A family friend introduced George to Barbara Baxter, whose father was club manager and golf pro at Pekin Country Club. By then he had also discovered his passion for golf! George and Barb were students at the University of Illinois and four years later, they were married at St. Paul’s. They celebrated their 55th anniversary last August. They have two daughters, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

In 1953 with his dad’s help, he became a partner in the Packard dealership on St. Mary Street. When his partner died, George persevered, adding Studebaker to the line and then, Mercedes Benz. Studebaker was the U.S. distributor for the German car. The company eventually relocated to a new building on Auto Row and American Motors and Jeep replaced Packard and Studebaker. In 1977-78 he served as chairman of the board of the Illinois New Car and Truck dealers Association. He sold the business to Midtown Imports in 1994 and went to work for Velde Oldsmobile Cadillac. He explains that the best job is (the job of) salesman. He retired in 1995, but continued his chairmanship of the Herget Bank

board until 2000. He served on the bank board for 25 years.
















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