Over the years, Dean Slack, 83, has donated his time to the Peoria community in an astounding variety of ways.
His dedication to the community has earned him a nomination for the first Peoria Independent Hometown Hero Lifetime Achievement award.
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Mr. Slack was born in Madison, South Dakota where he took up working in an oil well during his younger years, and later settled in Peoria in the 1950s.
This made him an early member of the Peoria community taking up residence in the Varney Tract, the city’s first neighborhood.
He has been a mentor, emergency responder, spiritual leader, umpire for the Peoria High School baseball team, a Little League coach, boxing coach and advocate protecting residents’ property rights.
In the late 1960s early 70s he served as the Peoria volunteer fire department assistant chief and later the Peoria Unified School District’s grounds maintenance supervisor, which he continued over a number of decades. He started as janitor in the district and then became a bus driver.
He contributed his knowledge of automobiles by doing light mechanic work on the buses and eventually worked as the grounds supervisor up until he retired, devoting more than 30 years to PUSD.
His son, Scott, said that many people remember him as a bus driver at Peoria High School and Ira Murphy Elementary School.
“He used to take me on field trips when he drove the Panther bus,” he said. “It was like a vacation.”
Mr. Slack is an ordained minister and served as Troupe 662 Cub Scouts chaplain, and even served one time as Peoria’s Santa Claus.
Music has always been a big part of his life, performing for Peoria 4th of July events in the 1970s as well as taking part in city Christmas concerts.
Last but not least, Mr. Slack is a father, grandfather and great-great-grandfather, who always placed others first before himself, Scott said. This has shown through the fact that he recently revealed to his family that one of his sons is not actually his biological son, but was rather was adopted to help provide a better life for a child.