Date of death: 10/19/2009
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1953
The Reverend James Edward Purcell, 82, of Peoria Heights died at OSF St. Clare Home.Fr. Ed” was born on April 27, 1927, at his family’s home in rural Princeville to Edward C. and Elizabeth J. (Colgan) Purcell.He attended Princeville High School, St. Ambrose College and Saint Meinrad Seminary. He was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria on May 3, 1953. In 1954, he attended Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he received his master’s degree in education.He was assistant, St. Mary’s in Peoria, 1953; assistant, St. Peter’s in Peoria, 1955; assistant superintendent of schools, Peoria Diocese, 1955; and resident, St. Francis Hospital in Peoria, 1956; director, Corpus Christi High School in Galesburg; and chaplain, St. Mary’s Hospital in Galesburg, 1961; assistant, St. Philomena’s in Peoria, 1962; pastor, St. Patrick’s in Arlington, 1966; assistant, Holy Cross in Champaign, 1967; Holy Family in Peoria, 1971; co-pastor, St. Mary’s in Moline, 1973; chaplain, Franciscan Medical Center in Rock Island, 1976; assistant, St. Philomena’s in Peoria, 1986; pastor, St. Luke’s in Eureka, 1991; vicar, Pekin Vicariate, 1993; and senior priest status, 1997.He is survived by two sisters, Elizabeth Murphy of rural Wyoming and JoAnne Ringness Shekleton of Peoria; one brother, J. Joseph Purcell of Peoria Heights; as well as 11 nieces and nephews; and several great-nieces and -nephews.His parents and one sister, Mary Ellen Boylan, preceded him in death.Fr. Ed committed his life to the service of the church and God. For more than 50 years, he devoted himself to his parishioners, friends and family. He was respected as a priest and will be fondly remembered for his friendliness and sense of humor. He also dedicated many hours of service as chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and the St. Brendan’s Society.He stayed in touch with his rural roots through the years. He enjoyed gardening and making frequent visits to his boyhood home. He liked traveling with his siblings, church groups and friends, both domestically and abroad.He was a sports fan and liked following his favorite teams.Memorial contributions may be made to the Knights of Columbus Spalding Council 427; the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation; or the charity of your choice.Published in the Peoria Journal Star on October 21, 2009.