Former coroner dies, leaves lasting impact on community

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VERMILION COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — People in Danville are mourning the loss of a woman who played a huge role in the community. Former Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson died on Christmas eve after she suffered a stroke.

The job of a coroner can be especially tough. They are often the bearer of bad news when dealing with death everyday, but current Vermillion County Coroner Jane McFadden says Johnson brought something special to the job.

“It was her ability to be compassionate. She had a huge heart and a large capacity for compassion…and understanding what people were going through and putting herself into their shoes,” says McFadden.

She says that sense of compassion and understanding is part of what earned Johnson several re-elections as coroner for 16 years before retiring in 2016. Johnson was also part of law enforcement for more than 20 years, but McFadden says her big heart lead her to help others in the community, too. Johnson worked at the Danville YWCA, helping women who were victims of violence and domestic abuse.

She was able to take what she learned at the women’s shelter and use it in sensitive situations as coroner.

“She had a way of talking to people and making them feel at ease. She was just a wonderful person,” says McFadden.

A wonderful person who will be greatly missed by her husband, kids, and grandchildren.

“This is just really kind of unexpected and tragic for her whole family…and us as a community,” says McFadden.

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