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Robert "Bob" Joseph Stecher

November 19, 1951 January 11, 2015
Robert "Bob" Joseph Stecher
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Obituary for Robert "Bob" Joseph Stecher

WEST PEORIA – Robert “Bob” Joseph Stecher, 63, of West Peoria passed away on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, at his home with his family by his side. Bob was born Nov. 19, 1951, to Joseph G. and Mary G. (Cotter) Stecher. He married his high school sweetheart, Carol Ann Bedell, on Dec. 2, 1972, at St. Mark Catholic Church in Peoria. She survives. He is also survived by two daughters, Melissa (Eric) Siebenthal and Karen Stecher; his son Robert (Jennifer Nicole) Stecher Jr.; and his five grandchildren, Hadley, Luke, Emma, Ryan and Alex. Also surviving are his siblings, Richard (Christine Karl) Stecher, James (Mary Wikoff) Stecher, Ann (Scott) Peterson, Mark (Kim Denman) Stecher and Thomas (Connie Peterson) Stecher; brother-in-law, William Bulfer; along with several aunts and uncles, and a number of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, William; and his sister, Patricia Bulfer. Bob graduated from Bergan High School in Peoria before joining his father full-time at Stecher’s Automotive Service, Inc. When his father retired in 1987, Bob became the owner of Stecher’s Automotive, making him the third generation to run the family business. The West Peoria Fire Department was an important part of Bob’s life. He joined the department in 1970, becoming an emergency medical technician and working his way up through the ranks. He was a firefighter, engineer, captain and assistant chief before becoming chief of the department in 1987. For more than 40 years, when the siren sounded, Bob would answer the call to help protect the lives and property of the people of West Peoria. He became the longest serving chief in the history of the W.P.F.D., before retiring the position in 2012. That same year, he was granted Chief Emeritus status by the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association. He also began serving as a trustee for the West Peoria Fire Protection District, a position he held until his passing. Bob received numerous honors and awards for his service to his community, including West Peoria’s Firefighter of the Year Award and Emergency Medical Technician of the Year Award, as well as the American Red Cross Heartland Hero Award (2003) and the Hardee’s Hometown Hero Award presented by Illinois Governor Jim Edgar (1994). Over the years, Bob has been a member and officer of numerous organizations, including the West Peoria Firefighter’s Association, Illinois Firefighter’s Association, Peoria Area Fire Chiefs Association, Illinois Fire Chiefs’ Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Central Illinois Fire Investigator’s Association, International Association of Arson Investigators, and the Peoria County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency. As a community leader, Bob worked with others to help incorporate the City of West Peoria in 1993. He served on the committee to select the City’s first mayor. He was a member of St. Ann Catholic Church in Peoria. He grew up in St. Mark Catholic Church and is a past member of Holy Family Catholic Church. Bob was a devoted family man; his wife, children and grandchildren were the light of his life. He taught his kids the importance of family, community service and hard work. He was passionate about flying, earning a pilot’s license in 1970. He would grab a friend and take to the skies to follow along the Illinois River or Interstate 74. For years, he enjoyed visiting with Stecher’s Automotive customers, telling stories over cups of coffee in the office. Bob took pride in the sterling reputation of Stecher’s Automotive, and it meant the world to him to work side-by-side with his grandfather, father, brothers, son and other family members. A funeral Mass will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015, at St. Ann Catholic Church in Peoria. Reverend Terry Cassidy will officiate. Visitation will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 16, at St. Ann Catholic Church preceded by a memorial service prayer at 2:45 p.m. The visitation will conclude with the “Firefighter Line-up” at 6:15 p.m., the “Firefighter Walk Through” at 6:30 p.m., and recitation of the Rosary at 7:30 p.m. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery in West Peoria. Wright & Salmon Mortuary is handling the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the West Peoria Fire Department or St. Ann Catholic Church. Tributes and condolences may be submitted to www.wrightandsalmon.com.

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