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Reverend James Edward Purcell

April 27, 1927 October 19, 2009
Reverend James Edward Purcell
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Obituary for Reverend James Edward Purcell

PEORIA HEIGHTS-Reverend James Edward Purcell, age 82, of Peoria Heights, died at 10:25 a.m. on Monday, October 19, 2009 at OSF Saint Clare Home. “Fr. Ed” was born on April 27, 1927, at his family’s home in rural Princeville, to Edward C. and Elizabeth J. (Colgan) Purcell. He attended Princeville High School, St. Ambrose College and St. Meinrad Seminary. He was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria on May 3, 1953. He attended Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. 1954, where he received his Masters Degree in Education. Assistant, St. Mary’s, Peoria, 1953. Assistant, St. Peter’s, Peoria, 1955. Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Peoria Diocese, 1955 and resident, St. Francis Hospital, Peoria, 1956. Director, Corpus Christi High School, Galesburg, and Chaplain, St. Mary’s Hospital, Galesburg, 1961. Assistant, St. Philomena’s, Peoria, 1962. Pastor, St. Patrick’s, Arlington, 1966. Assistant, Holy Cross, Champaign, 1967; Holy Family, Peoria, 1971. Co-Pastor, St. Mary’s, Moline, 1973. Chaplain, Franciscan Medical Center, Rock Island, 1976. Assistant, St. Philomena’s, Peoria, 1986. Pastor, St. Luke’s, Eureka, 1991. Vicar, Pekin Vicariate, 1993. Senior priest status, 1997. He is survived by and two sisters, Elizabeth Murphy of rural Wyoming and JoAnne Ringness Shekleton of Peoria; one brother, J. Joseph Purcell of Peoria Heights; as well as eleven nieces and nephews, and several great-nieces and nephews. His parents and one sister, Mary Ellen Boylan preceded him in death. Fr. Ed committed his life to the service of the church and God. For over 50 years, he devoted himself to his parishioners, friends, and family. He was respected as a priest and will be fondly remembered for his friendliness and sense of humor. He also dedicated many hours of service as chaplain of the Knight of Columbus and the St. Brendan’s Society. He stayed in touch with his rural roots through the years. He enjoyed gardening and making frequent visits to his boyhood home. He liked traveling with his siblings, church groups, and friends both domestically and abroad. He was a sports fan and liked following his favorite teams. A Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 23, 2009 at St. Mary’s of the Wood’s Catholic Church in Princeville. Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria will officiate. Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday at Wright & Salmon Mortuary with recitation of the Rosary at 7:45 p.m. Additional visitation will be one hour before the Mass at the church. Burial will be in St. Mary‘s of the Woods Cemetery in Princeville. Memorial contributions may be made to the Knights of Columbus Spalding Council #427, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation or the charity of your choice. Tributes and condolences may be submitted to


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