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DANVILLE — The city of Danville lost one of its greatest philanthropists Friday morning with the death of Julius W. Hegeler II. He was 91.

The lifelong Danville resident flew 70 combat missions in the Korean War as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, came back to his hometown and helped build a company that would become the world’s largest contract packager of chemical specialties and one of Vermilion County’s largest employers.

And in the latter part of his life, Mr. Hegeler donated millions to local entities and projects too numerous to list. Most focused on education, the environment, health care, historic preservation, the arts and helping people with disabilities.

Two of Mr. Hegeler’s most recent gifts helped launch Balloons Over Vermilion, the annual hot air balloon festival that’s coming up July 12-13 in the area, and restore the historic downtown Fischer Theater, which is slated to be finished for a grand opening in September.


Tracy Crane is a Danville-based reporter for The News-Gazette. Her email is