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A Publication of WTVP

They say when someone has lived a full life in every way, sadness upon that person's death is inappropriate and unnecessary. Yet the staffing industry has lost a pioneer in central Illinois in John "Jack" Edward Vilberg. This column is dedicated to him.

Jack came to Peoria in 1957 while working for the Burroughs Corp. before opening and managing the first Peoria 3M office. But his biggest contribution to the area began in September 1964, when he started Peoria Manpower Staffing Services. His goal was to provide a temporary employee service to businesses and opportunities to people looking for transitional situations. At that time, he basically was one of two such services.

During his tenure, he affected employment in central Illinois by opening seven Manpower offices throughout the region and, at age 71, was still active in the acquisition of additional offices in the area. He started his venture with three permanent staff, ultimately growing it to 65 permanent and part-time staff. He managed the offices for 40 years, nurturing and guiding them through major changes within the staffing industry.

At the outset, Jack's vision mainly focused on providing staff during vacation fill-ins; emergency support; or short, project-based needs. That vision changed drastically with the advent of the computer age. Jack responded, bringing employee training programs to Peoria, turning typists into computer operators, and preparing his "temps" to be every bit as capable as the customer's own staff. He also knew our industry must continue to recruit and train individuals to improve their earning power and answer the higher needs and expectations of businesses.

Though the industry changed, Jack's focus on the employee didn't. He often spoke of the satisfaction of not only providing a staffing service, but of also positively affecting a person's life that was in transition. He not only cared about the effect a job had on an individual, but also the effect on the individual's family. The most rewarding aspect for him was placing an employee in an environment that created upward mobility for that person.

When recruiting nationwide, his unabashed love for Peoria made it easy for him to sell the area to potential job seekers. In fact, when considering relocating here 10 years ago, Jack told me about the benefits of Peoria until my eyes rolled. Thank goodness he was right.

Finally, Jack will be remembered for his leadership roles in a multitude of community organizations. During his time in Peoria, his service touched the arts, city, and chamber organizations; political affiliations; and educational, health, and religious institutions. He brought his service to the office, often reminding us we didn't just have a job, but we were part of a community. And many times, he wouldn't let a "little thing like work" get in the way of such service.

The articles, cards, and sympathies from business associates and community activists are a testament to his character and grace and a remembrance of all those he touched. Peoria has lost a part of itself, and we're going to miss him. IBI