Last year around this time, our world looked quite different. More recently, as Covid cases have declined and restrictions lifted, it has been interesting to be out and about again. Dr. Victoria Mitchell’s article on grief struck a chord with me, as the months of lockdown have impacted all of us in one way or another. Coming out of isolation, to work or to socialize, has required a conscious effort. After the past year, we may have a new outlook on life—a feeling of gratitude for the simple things we once may have taken for granted.
In 2021, we are celebrating the ninth year of Peoria Magazines’ Local Legends program! We have honored a diverse range of community leaders over the last decade, and these issues are some of our most interesting and rewarding. Their stories and journeys are quite different, but they are connected by a common thread: each has made a lasting impact on central Illinois and beyond.
Thirty years ago, when this magazine was still in its earliest incarnation, I was just getting to know many of these community leaders. Esther Cohen was one of the first women I met around that time, and she was always very gracious and kind. Her decades of volunteerism and leadership in the arts and culture remain inspiring examples to us today.
As central Illinois’ own Walter Cronkite, Tom McIntyre was a daily fixture in our living room for years, while Martha Herm has worked relentlessly to help victims of violence and abuse. I’ve been to their home—the same beautiful land on which Martha grew up—and have witnessed firsthand the peace and serenity they have found there, immersed in nature.
And finally, Preston Jackson has been a prominent figure in our community for decades. I’ve seen him play music, I’ve visited his studios, and we’ve written about his work many times. While our interview in this issue barely scratches the surface of his life’s journey, we hope it provides new insights into the challenges he faced along the way—as well as his desire to bring people together and share his talents with others. We are so fortunate that he has stayed here in Peoria.
On Monday, July 12, we will host an intimate reception honoring this year’s class of Local Legends—and we will be back in person after last year’s virtual events. A limited number of tickets are available at 309tix.com. We hope to see you there! PM