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Eugene J. Farris

July 27, 1938 November 30, 2016
Eugene J. Farris
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Obituary for Eugene J. Farris
Morton-Eugene J. Farris, age 78, of Morton, IL succumbed to lung cancer on November 30th, 2016, at home surrounded by his loving family.

Gene was born on July 27th, 1938, at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, IL, an only child to Fred and Martha (LaHood) Farris. Gene met Carolee Campeggio in Peoria, and their first date was on October 30th, 1963, going to see “My Fair Lady” at the Shrine Mosque. That was the beginning of a 53-year love affair. Gene and Carolee were married on June 20th, 1964, at St. Roch’s Catholic Church in LaSalle, IL. The wedding music was beautifully sung by Gene’s Spalding-Academy High School Choir and his dear friend, Jim Maloof.

Gene is survived by his wife, Carolee, along with their three children, Gina (John) Wetzel of Peoria, IL, Scott (Alana) Farris of Plainfield, IL, and Mark Farris of Chicago, IL. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Matt, Daniel, and Jimmy Wetzel, and Ella, Patrick, and Andrew Farris. As well as his longest living aunt, Cecelia McCann of Metamora, IL, his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Kathy Jo and Ron Lindner of LaSalle, IL, and sister-in-law, Patricia Weberling of Berkeley, CA.

Preceding him in death were his grandparents, Joe and Rose Farris, and Anthony and Mary LaHood, his parents, and numerous aunts and uncles.

Gene attended St. Patrick’s Grade School, graduating in 1952. He attended Spalding Institute and graduated in 1956. While in high school, Gene’s sweet mother kept a careful log of his many piano jobs. Those included: school dances, Homecoming Stunt Shows, Christmas Programs, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and weekly masses. Little did Martha know that he also played in some various clubs in downtown Peoria. After high school, Gene started at Louis College, but after one semester, he transferred to Bradley University where he graduated in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in music education and in 1966 with Master’s Degree in Music Education. He also received an Administrative Degree from Western Illinois University.

Gene’s professional career started as the Band and Choral director at Spalding Institute in 1960. Gene also coached freshman football under head coach Mike Mariani and varsity golf, as well as directing “The King and I”, “Finian’s Rainbow”, and “Cinderella”. In 1966, Gene was approached by Roy Demanes to open up and play at his new Ramada Inn. The Ramada Inn was a beautiful hotel that was definitely ahead of its time. So in April of 1966, Gene began a four-year career that included playing piano in the piano bar, the Garden Room, and the restaurant. Next, Gene was hired to teach and start a band at Mossville Grade School, and then the following year at Bergan High School. In 1971, Gene started at Peoria Heights High School teaching Band and Chorus. He was named the principal of PHHS in 1973 and remained in that position until 1984. He finished as a teacher in the Heights, retiring in 1994.

Gene had many loves of his life. Playing the piano at Jim’s Steak House was definitely one of them! He originally started at Jim’s in the Junction City in 1971; then moved to their downtown location in the Jay Janssen Building. It was an honor to work for the Comfort family for 45 years. Gene also enjoyed playing at the St. Jude Telethon, the Peoria Journal Star Christmas Sing, Jack Pearl’s Christmas parties, as well as many other parties to numerous to count.

In addition to the many years of hard work, Gene found time to enjoy playing golf, playing blackjack at the Paradise, spending 11 winters in Naples, FL, and time with his family and friends. Gene was a former member of Holy Family Parish in Peoria, and a current member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Morton.

Our family would like to thank the caregivers who were so kind and loving to Gene. Thank you to Nancy Knoll, Tiffany Parker, Lana Hogan, Dawn Kneer, Angie Smith, Nancy Jones, Kim Crandoll, Naomi Hoerr, and Peggy Kocher.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial Donations can be made to the Peoria Notre Dame High School Band, the Bradley University Music Department, or the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate Children’s Hospital.

Gene’s Funeral Mass will be at 10a.m. on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Morton, with Msgr. Gerald Ward as the celebrant. Visitation will be from 4-7p.m. on Friday, December 2nd, 2016 at Wright and Salmon Mortuary in Peoria. Further visitation will be held 30 minutes prior to mass, at Blessed Sacrament Church. There will be a private burial at a later time.

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4:00 PM 12/2/2016 4:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 12/2/2016 7:00:00 PM
Wright & Salmon Mortuary

2416 N. North Street
Peoria, IL 61604

Wright & Salmon Mortuary
2416 N. North Street Peoria 61604 IL
United States

Funeral Mass




10:00 AM 12/3/2016 10:00:00 AM
Blessed Sacrament Church

1020 S. First Ave.
Morton, IL 61550

Blessed Sacrament Church
1020 S. First Ave. Morton 61550 IL
United States

Memorial Contribution

Bradley University Music Department

Peoria Notre Dame High School Band

St. Jude Midwest Affiliate


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