Paul Masick: Down in the Trenches

paulIn the early spring of 2016 when Paul Masick’s friend and Moss-Bradley neighbor, Marjorie Klise, nominated him for MRBA Volunteer of the Year, she submitted a brief list of how he serves the neighborhood: “replaces the tattered flag, fabricates the neighborhood signs, attends endless meetings, paints the gazebo, has served on every board and committee.” She was only skimming the surface.

Paul’s service to the neighborhood is long and deep. And in addition to his community contributions, he pursues many other interests quietly but intensely.

Paul grew up in Jacksonville, Illinois, raised by his grandmother. He credits scouting with being crucial to his development. Early on he earned a scouting Silver Arrow and was given the Indian nickname, “Dark Star”, perhaps foreseeing a future for him as a bright star in his firmament. He later became an Eagle Scout, earning two Silver Palms. He has fond memories of trips to Philmont Ranch, the Boy Scout center in New Mexico, where he once met up with the oil baron, Waite Phillips, who gave the land to the Boy Scouts of America.

At Fort Leonard Wood , Missouri, while serving in US Army, Paul continued his interest in scouting , acting as Scout Master and establishing a Cub Scout Pack for boys living on the post with their military families.

After discharge from the Army, Paul came to Peoria and went to work for Cilco, the Central Illinois utility company, in the Credit Department. While employed with Cilco he earned a Bachelor of Law degree in l97l from the LaSalle Extension University. He slyly says he was inspired to learn about legal matters when he had to hire an attorney and was impressed by how money the attorney charged for doing a relatively small amount of work. His legal degree served him well in his Cilco position and he was to spend 33 years with the company before retiring in 1996.

But, apparently never ever contemplating a life of leisure, in 1976, Paul bought a dilapidated and in danger of being torn down house at the corner of Cooper and Ayres in the virtual center of the Moss-Bradley area and thus began his forty years of home ownership, neighborhood involvement and community service.

Looking at photos of the house in 1976 and seeing it today, one would hardly recognize it as the same place. Siding, windows and roofing outside; woodwork, walls, plumbing and painting inside – all testament to hours of planning and backbreaking labor, all done by Paul. The yard was transformed from a literal junkyard to a landscaped space with brick patio, fountain, a profusion of plants and trees and grass, all expertly tended and surrounded by a pristine picket fence. Paul has won the Keep Peoria Beautiful Iris Award given for outstanding landscaping and beautification of home and garden, twice – first in 2006 and again in 2016.
In the mid seventies Paul had been active in Peoria Players, serving as production manager for six years and president from 1975 to 1977. Taking on homeownership in 1976 kept him busy with renovation and maintenance. But after retirement from Cilco, he turned his sights on his neighborhood and community.

Paul served on the City of Peoria Historic Preservation Commission for over 10 years, including Chairman for three years from 2005 to 2008. He has been President of Moss Bradley Residential Association twice, first for two years from 2001 to 2003, and again in 2006. As the MBRA representative to the West Bluff Council, he has been Vice President twice and President three times in the last 10 years. He also received the West Bluff Council Pillar Award in 2004.

Paul has represented Moss Bradley in the Neighborhood Alliance, a consortium of 29 neighborhood associations in Peoria, for over five years, serving as both Vice President and President during those years. The Western Avenue Greenway project enlisted him for their board in 2014 and this year elected him Vice President.

Never missing a beat in keeping his garden blooming, getting his garbage out in time, turning out fine pieces in his home woodworking shop, and doing a little landscape painting in his spare time, in 2016, Paul received the first Moss-Bradley Volunteer of the year award, and as his friend Marjorie, pointed out, “no one has been in the trenches for the ‘dirty work’ more than Paul Masick.”

Attached to Paul’s house, near the front door, is a bronze plaque, awarded by one of his friends when he became a member of the Peoria Historic Preservation Commission. It says, “On this site in 1897 nothing happened.” That was before Paul Masick moved in one hundred years later and made big things happen.

Rick Melby, MBRA’s Artist in Residence

Rick Melby & Michelle Funk

Rick Melby & Michelle Funk

Rick Melby, accomplished glass artist and neighborhood activist, echoes another local entrepreneur, saying, “we wanted to not just move to Peoria, but become a part of Peoria.”

And he has succeeded admirably in the past seven years. He recalls being welcomed to the neighborhood in 2009 by Jim Evenhuis, who was the president of the Moss- Bradley Residential Association, and came bearing a plate of brownies and an invitation to join the organization. Since then Rick has served as a MBRA board member and is the current Vice President. He keeps an eagle eye on the happenings in his Barker Avenue neighborhood, including the dog walkers and Bradley students, and has established a friendly rapport with the University and City Code Enforcement.

Rick, along with his wife, Michelle, landed in Peoria after a series of moves that in his telling sounds like “Rick’s Excellent Adventures in Art and Life” One encounter in a search for housing early in his career, started with the question, “What’s your sign?” When it turned out that Rick and the interviewer shared not only an astrological sign, but a birthday, he was shoo-in for the space!

His early beginnings were ruled by the postings of his father’s military career. A turning point happened in the mid sixties with a move to Satellite Beach, Florida with it’s lure of ocean and the new space age rocket launchings. There he signed up for junior high classes in Art rather than endure the more threatening “Shop” option.

After high school it was on to the University of South Florida in Tampa, where Rick had a love/hate relationship with academia and as he says, “escaped” with an Associate of Arts degree. Settling into the real world, he was attracted by a mid-seventies popular resurgence of the art of stained glass. He jokes that his first commission was not glass of the decorative variety, but a request to craft a replacement draft window for a friend’s automobile. (You may have to be of a certain age to know what a draft window is…).

The historic Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa beckoned and for several years Rick maintained a studio there where he added three dimensional blown and kiln glass art to his repertoire and made a significant move in his art career by following an impulse to pursue crafting lighting fixtures . Eventually, attracted by the mountain setting and the Penland Art School, Rick’s move to Ashville, North Carolina was kismet – he became a part of the thriving art community there, opened a small show room, connected with glass artist and Midwest native, Hiram Toraason, and in what he says was the most important decision in his life, married Michelle Funk.

So, inspired by the opportunity for artistic stretching, Michelle’s Midwest family roots, and Toraason’s encouragement, Rick and Michelle came to Peoria. They found themselves intrigued by the possibilities for home and hearth in the West Bluff area and the challenges in engaging in the arts community.

At Hiram Toraason’s invitation, Rick became a member of the steering committee for the newly established CIAO First Friday which has burgeoned into a successful showplace for Arts in Peoria. You’ll find him regularly at First Friday demonstrations at Toraason Glass studio and gallery. Rick has also had his own show at Exhibit A Gallery in Peoria Heights and his art has been selected for display in the innovative and popular local ArtPop project. You can check for current location on the ArtsPartners website,

Meet Your Neighbors! Deb and Tom Dougherty

By Mary Ann Armbruster

tddDeb and Tom Dougherty had just finished remodeling and rehabbing an 1894 farm house in, Princeville, when Tom came home one day and said, “My favorite house on Moss Avenue is for sale. Let’s go take a look.”  Deb was feeling the winter ice and isolation in Princeville where they were 45 minutes away from everything and had recently struggled to free their automobile from a monstrous snow bank.  “OK,” she said, “let’s go look.”

Now, three years later, they and Beamish, their Golden Retriever, are happily part of the Moss-Bradley neighborhood in a 126 year old home on Moss Avenue.    For Tom, it’s a return to the family stomping grounds.  His grandfather and father before him grew up here.  As a boy, Tom lived on Cooper Street near the Bradley campus.  Like his father, he attended St. Mark’s Grade School.  He then went on to Spalding, and the University of Illinois. As an adult he rehabbed and lived in a house on Sherman Avenue.   Deb says they feel a friendly connectedness and very much at home on Moss Avenue.

Deb’s grew up in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, graduated from U of I at Springfield and ISU. She has been a teacher for 25 years, and has been teaching History and Political Science at Illinois Central College for 18 years. Tom has had a long career in landscaping, beginning at the age of 16 working for Tie City on Farmington Road and is now the owner his own company, Good Earth Landscaping. In fact, he and Deb met 10 years ago this Spring at the Home Show in Peoria where she had gone with a friend to get ideas for the yard of her home in Washington.   She says that Tom came to her home offering “mulch samples” though in reality he only had available one color of mulch.

Deb and Tom’s family includes Tom’s children, MJ, attending Columbia College in Chicago, William, a student at ICC, and Douglas, at home in Dwight, Illinois. Deb’s parents will soon become Moss Avenue residents themselves, becoming neighbors of their daughter and son-in-law.

Both Tom and Deb are active in the community with a special interest in history.   Deb is currently President of the Peoria Historical Society, on the boards of Moss Bradley Residential Association and the Riverfront Museum, and a member of the Peoria Historical Preservation Commission.  Tom is Vice President of the Moss-Bradley Revolving Fund, on the board of Keep Peoria Beautiful, volunteers as a Rotary Club member in a reading program at Trewyn School, and is Commodore of the Wharf Harbor Boat Club.

For the past six years, the Boat Club has become a special part of the Dougherty’s lives. Their love of history prompted the name of their boat, “Whiskey River” in honor of Peoria’s part in the brewing and liquor industries.  Beamish (named after another industry product) joins them in his own life jacket as they set aside time to spend on the river with the many friends they’ve made through their boating hobby.

The Dougherty’s look forward to many busy and happy years in their Moss-Bradley home.  Of the seemingly endless stream of maintenance and preservation activities necessary in an older home, Tom says, “We’re comfortable in steadily setting priorities and working toward our goals.”



Get To Know Your Neighbor – Leonard & Annette Schmillen

Leonard & Annette SchmillenStreet:
St. James St.

We have three sons – Jeremiah, Luke & Jack. Jeremiah is married to Carrie and they have our three grandchildren Isabella, Madeleine and Eli.

Where were you born:
We were both born in Peoria

Who was the most influential person to you:
Our parents

What type of music are you listening to now:
We love our Pandora Radio which includes a wide variety of types of music. Some favorites are Eva Cassidy, George Winston, Vitamin String.

 What was your first job:
Leonard was a bottle boy at Haddads grocery where he stacked returned soda bottles for $15.00 a week! Annette worked in the dining room of St. Joseph’s home serving meals to the residents.

What accomplishment are you most proud of:
Our wonderful family and happy life.

What is special about where you live:
Our grand, beautiful old Victorian house which has been in Annette’s family since it was built around 1900. When we moved in eight years ago we continued the unbroken line of Bushells living here. It is a gift and a privilege to call it home.

Get To Know Your Neighbor – Brian and Sarah Gruber

Get to Know Your Neighbor-GruberStreet:
Moss Ave

Lydia (5) and Max (2)

Where were you born:
Brian was born in Peoria and Sarah in Lafayette IN

Who was the most influential person to you:
Brian – My grandparents Sarah – My parents

What type of music are you listening to now:
We both love all genres of music and you could find everything from country to alternative rock to jazz and classical in our music collection!

What was your first job:
Brian – paper route Sarah – check-out clerk at a grocery store

What accomplishment are you most proud of:
We are proud to be contributing members of our community and supporters of many local nonprofit and civic organizations.

What is special about where you live:
We love the culture in our neighborhood. We have met so many wonderful neighbors that have made us feel especially welcome.

We had our eye on the property long before we purchased the house and when a friend recently asked if it felt like home yet, our response was that it felt like home before we ever moved in.

I think that is truly a remarkable quality of our neighborhood and we love it here!

Get to Know Your Neighbor – Stephen & Carolina Erke

Get To Know Your Neighbor - ErkeWhere were you born:

Stephen – Peoria, IL

Carolina – Bogota, Colombia

Who was the most influential person to you: 

Stephen – Parents | Carolina – Parents

What type of music are you listening to now:

Stephen – Alt & Indie Rock | Carolina – Pop

What was your first job:

Stephen – Brown’s Sporting Goods

Carolina – Movie Theater Concessions

What accomplishment are you most proud of:

Stephen – Marrying the love of my life.

Carolina – Overcoming learning a foreign language and graduating college.

What is special about where you live:

We love the vibe of the neighborhood driven by the eclectic mix of homes, people and businesses. These qualities add to the overall richness and depth of the neighborhood. We love our house. It was built in 1918 and we’ve spent the last 8 years working on countless renovations with many more to follow.

Get to Know Your Neighbor – Jan Krouse

Submitted by Brian Buralli

Jan KrouseStreet you live on:
Moss Ave

My daughter, Ciana Sheldon lives next door to me on Moss.

Where were you born:
Hornell, NY

Who was the most influential person to you:
My parents – my Dad’s favorite saying was “don’t sweat the small stuff” and that has served me well.

What type of music are you listening to now:
Listen to many different genres, from classic rock to some country and the standards. Favorites are the Eagles, James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg and Frank Sinatra.  Oh, and Three and a Half Men!

What was your first job:
During high school did a lot of babysitting. First real job was a bank teller.

What accomplishment are you most proud of:
Raising my beautiful daughter into the woman she is today.

What is special about where you live:
The neighbors. When Del and I moved to Moss Ave in January 1996, we quickly became aware of the specialness of this neighborhood. There is a generosity of spirit in this neighborhood that is unique. My neighbors have become more like family, looking out for each other and always willing to give advice, lend a hand, offer comfort and share their love.

Get to Know Your Neighbor – John & Marcy Marter

Submitted by Brian Buralli


Street you live on:
Douglas St.

Eight children all grown. Now we have cats.

Where were you born:
John – Lafayette, IN; Marcy – Peoria, IL

Who was the most influential person to you:
John – Grandparents; Marcy – Parents

What type of music are you listening to now:
John – Oldies Pop; Marcy – Progressive

What was your first job:
John – Lifeguarding; Marcy – Cashier at the Voyager Inn on Hamilton

What accomplishment are you most proud of:
John – Restoring this house; Marcy – Creating a successful business

What is special about where you live:
The age of our house, built circa 1860s. We both love this house and everyone thinks it is a Victorian dream. We are so close to many exciting places like Studios on Sheridan and Habitat for Humanity. We love our life here in Peoria.


Meet Our Neighbors: Ed Tarbuck & Joanne Bannon


Street you live on:
We live on Moss

How long have you lived in the neighborhood:
Ed moved in and began renovations in 1999, my three children and I moved in after Ed and I were married in 2000.

Best thing about where you live:
Best thing about living here is the eclectic nature of our neighborhood. So many people are willing to pitch in on projects that define our association. From a broader standpoint, we love the fact that we can enjoy the many benefits of our city. Downtown restaurants and pubs provide countless live music events. Civic Center events cater to a wide audience, are usually very reasonably priced, and readily available tickets. We both genuinely enjoy the hometown, friendly feel of the Peoria area.

Where are you originally from:
Ed is originally from Calumet, Minnesota, I was born and raised here in Peoria.

What kind of work do you do:
Ed is a geologist and writes a series of five college textbooks in Earth Science, Geology and Atmosphere. I’ve worked at Bradley and ICC in Student Services/Education Administration, but currently work with Ed from our home office proofing, editing, and updating his manuscripts.

We especially enjoy traveling–especially wine country and, of course, anywhere Ed can always find an interesting geological site to explore! Last fall, we enjoyed a (short, but sweet) trip to Argentina where we visited a few significant geologic sites as well as the iconic wine region in Mendoza.

Your idea of “the perfect day”:
Ed’s perfect day would center on his “stay up late, get up late” mantra and would include some combination of fishing, drinking nice red wine, enjoying a good meal, and watching a great movie. I enjoy all those things, (most to a lesser degree–fishing, for example) but add the flavor of time with family and friends, and we’re good to go!

Favorite meal:
Our favorite foods are, undeniably, Italian! Our favorite places in Peoria are locally owned where we can always enjoy great meals with family and friends!