Skip to main content
A1 A1
top story
Beguelin honored for 50 years of service

CENTRALIA — Dr. Jerry Beguelin provided over 50 years of service to the area at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital and in private practice in Irvington. His family recently donated a stone to honor his 50 years of service to St. Mary’s Hospital.

Dr. Beguelin saw patients in the emergency department and helped grow the overall operations of the ER from the late 1960s to the early 2000s. The stone recognizing his years of service is displayed to the left of the ER main entrance.

Beguelin grew up on a farm near the Jefferson-Marion County line. He attended Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine and graduated in 1962. While in school at Washington University, he served as an intern at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“While interning, 27 nurses and five doctors were diagnosed with Hepatitis A,” Beguelin said. He noted that the spread of the infection was traced back to a lady who had squeezed orange juice.

Beguelin spent several years in the St. Louis region before moving to this area. He said that his first job was in the trauma department at St. Louis County Hospital. While in St. Louis, Beguelin was able to receive his board certifications in family practice and emergency medicine.

“I was always trying to improve and try new areas through certifications and recertifications,” he noted.

Dr. Beguelin recalled starting a practice in Irvington after his move back to the area. His office was located near the current location of Bandy’s Pharmacy on Huron Street. Beguelin also recalled his help in starting the Rural Health Clinic in Irvington, now known as the Hoyleton Medical Clinic, on Main Street in Hoyleton.

Beguelin also mentioned his help in the formation of Doctors Nursing Home in Salem, which was founded by a few doctors from the area. In addition, he and several friends and doctors in the region formed a shelter in Washington County for the developmentally disabled. Beguelin noted that this shelter eventually closed after several years.

In addition to his work at the hospital, the formation of the nursing home and shelter for developmentally disabled, Beguelin also served as Washington County coroner for several years. Beguelin also recalled serving as a school doctor for years.

“When I first started seeing patients, a visit to the doctor was $3,” Beguelin recalled.

Beguelin started at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in 1964 and oversaw a variety of surgeries in his 55 years. He recalled stories over the years related to gallbladder removals, removal of tonsils, hysterectomies and tracheotomy surgeries.

While most of his experiences in the emergency department were good and brought a lot of positive stories over the years, Beguelin had his own medical emergency experiences over the years. He recalled that at the age of 18, he had a fractured mandible and wired jaw that sent him to St. Louis for a surgery.

Beguelin has had a pacemaker installed, but also mentioned his involvement in installing the first pacemaker in a patient at St. Mary’s Hospital. One thing about pacemakers Beguelin has found interesting over the years is the change in the batteries.

“At the time of the first pacemaker I installed, batteries would only last about two years. Now they last close to 12 years,” he said.

Later on in his life, Beguelin recalled falling off a ladder in his barn, which sent him to the hospital and ultimately required a medical flight by helicopter to St. Louis. Initially, Beguelin said, his CAT scan was normal.

“Weeks later, I was sent for a head scan and was rushed to Barnes-Jewish Hospital by helicopter,” Beguelin added. He said that he ended up having a wound infection.

At the time of the fall from the ladder, Beguelin lived next door to Dr. Lyle Pahnke in Irvington. Beguelin said that Pahnke was able to help take care of him at home for a while. He added that a CNA made home visits for two or three weeks, as well. Beguelin was able to continue his medical practice for five years after his fall.

Kay Zibby-Damron, SSM Health Regional Foundation director, said that the donation of the stone was organized to recognize Beguelin’s service to the hospital.

“The hospital is grateful for his service. They appreciate his longtime service to the hospital and community,” Zibby-Damron added.

Zibby-Damron noted that Beguelin was a longtime physician in the area and was involved in leadership and recruitment at the hospital, but was also instrumental in the region.

“Beguelin was considered a pioneer of medicine and was really ahead of his time,” she recalled.

Dr. Beguelin met his wife, Joan, at St. Mary’s Hospital. She served as the director of medical records, and he was the director of the emergency department when they first met. Mrs. Beguelin has a degree in medical records from Saint Louis University. She retired after 39 years at the hospital as vice president of strategic planning.

Dr. and Mrs. Beguelin have been married for 46 years and have four adult children. Their two sons and two daughters each have higher education degrees and have had successful careers. Dr. Beguelin said that their youngest son, Chad, has been involved in several plays around the United States and has found success as a playwright. Dr. and Mrs. Beguelin have attended all of his plays. Chad Beguelin has an annual $5,000 scholarship through the Centralia Cultural Society.

top story
DuQuoin man killed in Washington County crash

NASHVILLE — An accident reported early Tuesday morning in Washington County resulted in the death of a 28-year-old DuQuoin man.

Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger released a statement on Wednesday, reporting that Marcus D. Young was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on Route 127, near Mississippi Road, at approximately 6:45 a.m. Tuesday.

“Young was the restrained driver of a black, older model Mercury, which was traveling south on (State) Route 127 when he struck the trailer of a semi truck loaded with soybeans, which was entering the roadway from a private drive on the west side of the highway,” the release stated.

Styninger continued to say that conditions were extremely foggy, and it appears that neither driver saw the other until immediately before the collision. The driver of the semi was not injured in the accident.

Responding agencies included Washington County Ambulance Service, Nashville Fire Department, Nashville Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Illinois State Police and the Washington County Coroner’s Office. Precision Towing and Gary’s Tire Towing both assisted the Nashville Fire Department with heavy extrication at the scene.

Styninger said toxicology samples were obtained for routine testing, but the cause of death was determined to be “head injuries due to blunt force trauma, and the manner of death was determined to be accidental.”

top story breaking
Authorities ID woman found deceased on Thursday

CENTRALIA — Authorities have identified the woman found deceased at the intersection of Noleman and Locust streets in Centralia early Thursday morning following a suspected hit and run accident.

The victim has been identified as 54-year-old Tracey L. Cook, of Centralia, according to Marion County Coroner Troy Cannon. Cook “had apparently been struck by a vehicle and died instantly,” noted Cannon.

According to Centralia Police Department Lt. Steve Whritenour, an officer found the victim. The officer determined that the individual was deceased, and contacted CPD investigations, the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigations team, the ISP Crash Reconstruction Division and Cannon.

The subject was found at around 1:15 a.m., according to Cannon.

Whritenour said the teams pulled surveillance footage from multiple area businesses and, after reviewing the footage, found several leads to follow.

“We’re following up on some very promising leads,” he said.

Whritenour could not disclose any other information, due to the ongoing investigation, prior to press time on Thursday.

Those with information are asked to contact the CPD at 618-533-7602.

According to Cannon, an autopsy is scheduled to take place on Friday in Urbana as part of the investigation.

The Irvin Macz Funeral Home in Centralia is assisting Cook’s family with arrangements.

top story
IDNR announces CWD sampling locations

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is reminding deer hunters about locations where deer can be tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) free of charge.

According to an IDNR press release, CWD is a fatal disease of the central nervous system in deer and elk. Since 2002 when the first deer was diagnosed with CWD in Illinois, 150,970 wild deer have been sampled statewide, and 1,383 individual deer have been found to be infected with CWD. The disease is predominantly found in the northern third of Illinois.

Biologists track the distribution and intensity of CWD primarily through testing of hunter-harvested deer. CWD is not known to transmit to humans, but caution is advised. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend consuming CWD positive venison (deer meat).

Hunters can visit participating vendors, including taxidermists and meat processors, or drop deer heads at self-serve drop-off sites. A list of locations is available online at

Locations also can be found on the Hunt Illinois app at or through an interactive map at

Hunters in CWD counties are strongly encouraged to have their deer tested. Hunters who plan to have their deer mounted can have a cooperating taxidermist collect the sample; testing procedures will not damage the deer skull. Hunters not using a cooperating taxidermist can bring the caped-out head to an IDNR sample drop-off barrel location where available.

Firearm deer hunters in CWD counties can get a voluntary sample taken by a biologist when they bring harvested deer to mandatory physical check stations during the firearm seasons. For a map of check stations, visit

Hunters in non-CWD counties can use sample drop-off barrels or sampling vendors to have samples taken.

Hunters can view the results of their CWD tests by visiting Hunters will be contacted by an IDNR wildlife biologist if their deer tests positive for CWD.

Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, IDNR’s Wildlife Disease Program identified 218 CWD-positive deer in 18 Illinois counties, including Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will, and Winnebago.

For more information about CWD management in Illinois, visit