Bela Leslie McKnight Sr. (Mariahegyi), 68, of Peoria, IL passed away Friday, May 17, 2019 at OSF Richard Owens Hospice House in Peoria, IL.
He was born on December 24, 1950 in Budapest, Hungary to Valentine Balint and Ruby Piroska Mariahegyi (Fulop).
Surviving is his son Bela Leslie McKnight Jr (Niccole) of Peoria, IL; two grandsons Lennon and Halen; sister Susan Palmer of Quincy, IL; niece Jennifer Palmer of Washington, D.C.; aunt Elizabeth Takacs (Mariahegyi) of Cleveland, OH; cousins Kathy (Alia, Janette, Athena) and Martha Takacs. Twice divorced he married Barbara A. Street in 1974 and Donna L. Harrison in 1992.
At 5 years old his parents escaped Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution and migrated to Baie Comeau (Quebec) Canada. He grew to love hockey and played for years. At 15 his dad hired on at CAT so the family moved to Peoria, IL. He graduated Richwoods High School in 1969. He then served in the US Army 591stMP Co at Ft. Bliss, Tx from ‘70-‘73 and made E5 Sergeant. He earned an Associate’s Degree from Illinois Central College. He took police basic training at the University of Illinois with intention of becoming a Police Officer. Fate landed him a job as a Security Guard at Woodruff H.S in Peoria; and after layoff, hired on as a Custodian at Harrison School in Peoria where he retired after 38 years with District 150.
Known to most as Big B, he was a true rocker and avid concert goer. He was the biggest Rolling Stones fan you’d ever meet. He was a lifelong musician and played drums and guitar; was part of the Peoria music scene for years as the drummer for Planetary Gearhead, the R.U. Ready band, etc. He also enjoyed watching his son’s band play and would gladly party backstage. He was a gearhead and loved going to car shows; he owned a plethora of muscle cars thru the years, including his beloved ‘68 Dodge Charger RT. He never missed a day of work; never missed a day playing the lottery. Loved his family; loved being a Grandpa; loved his friends (too many to list); loved his dogs (Pixie, Wendy, Otis); enjoyed his cold beers and Crown; proud of his kept yard, house plants, pepper & tomato plants; he was the coolest daddio on the scene; had a kind heart; loved everybody; always the life of the party!
Cremation rites have been accorded. A memorial visitation will be held Wednesday, May 29, 2019 from 4:00-6:00pm at Mason-White Funeral Home, 20 Valley Forge Road, Washington, IL. A family dinner to follow at Mickies Pizzeria, 1051 E. Washington St, East Peoria, IL. To share a memory or send a condolence for his family, visit www.masonfuneralhomes.com.
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