DANVILLE — A former Danville alderman and the chairman of the Danville Humane Society board of directors was being remembered on Thursday as a community leader who was "extremely" passionate about the causes in which he was involved.
Peter Lary died Wednesday. He was 63.
Mr. Lary worked as a Vermilion County probation officer for 21 years and served as the supervisor of adult probation from 1997 until he retired in 2002.
Lary received the state of Illinois' Probation Officer of the Year award in 1995.
He was appointed to the Danville City Council in December 1990 and elected the following April. He was re-elected in 1995 and 1999, before stepping down in January 2002.
When Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer was appointed to the council as an alderman, Mr. Lary served as chairman of the council's public services oversight committee.
"Pete was one of my mentors," Eisenhauer recalled on Thursday. "I had the great opportunity to serve on the Public Services Committee under his chairmanship. He did a great job of taking me under his wing and really showing me what public service was all about. The lessons I learned from him about how to be an effective public servant I still use today and have always found to be very valuable tools in serving as an elected official."
Mr. Lary also served as acting chairman of the old Environmental Committee and chairman of the joint Danville-Vermilion County Public Safety Building Committee.
Not long after stepping down from the council, Mr. Lary joined the board of the nonprofit humane society, recalled former longtime director JoAnn Adams. He served as board president for eight or nine years until the day he died.
"He got both of his dogs from the shelter," said Adams, who said Mr. Lary was an animal lover.
Adams said her friendship with Mr. Lary went back at least 25 years.
"We lost one of the best guys I've ever known," she said, adding Lary, who was well over 6 feet tall, would often tease her. "He would always ask me, 'JoAnn, is the weather down there good?' because I'm short. I would say, 'Pete, that's not nice.'
"But he was one of the kindest, most devoted people I've ever met. He went out of his way to do things for people. He would sit and talk. He may not always agree with you. But he would always listen."
"Everything he was involved in, he did with such an immense passion and compassion," Eisenhauer added. "He definitely will be greatly missed as a person and a community leader."