In the game of life, Leslie E. Zedric, 81, of Monmouth, Illinois took the mound for the last time at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 supported by loving family and friends.
Born in Canton, Illinois to Maxine (Fernetti) and Steve Zedric on April 10, 1938. Les attended Lewistown Community High School and was a standout athlete. Following graduation in 1956, he turned down minor league baseball contracts from three teams and attended Reedley College and the University of La Verne in California where he played basketball and baseball prior to induction into the U.S. Army Reserve.
An avid baseball fan and even fiercer competitor with an infectious sense of humor and love of people, Les applied those same traits to the business world. In 1978, he purchased Monmouth Livestock Sales and grew it to become the largest independently owned sale barn in Illinois during the 1980s, and later moved exclusively into private livestock trading, which he continued until the week he passed. Using a livestock sorting metaphor, he often joked that his next job would be in heaven helping St. Peter sort souls by “running the gate.” Vintage Les.
Blessed with outstanding vision, he was an expert mushroom hunter, a crack shot, and a savvy trader who saw opportunity even in defeat. No matter the opponent, the location, or the score, he always wanted the ball and believed that no game was out of reach. He beat cancer, survived one stroke, lost to another, and eternally loved the game of life. In the end, his final box score read, “many runs, countless hits, and a few errors, with a lifetime BS batting average worthy of the Hall of Fame.”
Les will be remembered by all who knew him as a gregarious friend with unbridled optimism, an irreverent sense of humor, and a playful razor wit. A large, dynamic man, he was as tough as any, harder than most, and valued hard work and sometimes harder play. A man proud of his Croatian and Italian heritage, who found the bright side of even the darkest days and squeezed every minute out of each hour to tally a life exceedingly well-lived. A line from Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar summed him up best, “…the elements mixed so well in him that all Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘this was a man.’” That he was. And he did it his way.
Les is survived by his loving wife of almost 40 years, Paulet Zedric of Monmoth, Illinois; sons Lance (Ching) Zedric of Peoria, Illinois and Robert Billingsley of Orlando, Florida; one daughter, Tangela (Matt) Coburn of Brookneal, Virginia; grandsons Cody Billingsley of Rushville, Illinois and Chase Billingsley of Orlando, Florida; granddaughters Ariel Zedric of Peoria and Cameron Billingley of Orlando, Florida; one sister, Lura Dee Neel of Peoria; several nieces and nephews; and two grieving dogs, Josie and Oscar. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Leon Zedric; and one son, Tony Billingsley.
A special thanks to Dawn, Angie, and everyone from the OSF palliative care team who made his transition from this life to the next an easy one..
All friends are invited to a Celebration of Life be held from 4:00-8:00 pm, Saturday, June 15, 2019 at the Monmouth VFW, 830 N. G St. Monmouth. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Les’s name to the Alamo Scouts Historical Foundation thttp://www.alamoscouts.org/ . McGuire & Davies Funeral Home and Crematory, Monmouth is in charge of the arrangements.