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.
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."
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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