Avgary ‘Av’ Kehias
1923 – 2012
Avgary “Av” Kehias, 88, of rural Pana, died Sunday morning, Feb. 26, as the result of a one-vehicle crash on U.S. Route 51 north of Ramsey.
Kehias was northbound at 11:13 a.m. near 3200 North Road, about a mile south of the Shelby-Fayette County line, when his 2005 Chevrolet pickup ran off the road and struck a utility pole, then rolled over, according to the Illinois State Police District 12, Effingham. He was ejected from the vehicle.
Kehias died in Fayette County Hospital, Vandalia, according to the state police.
Av Kehias was born Dec. 22, 1923, a son of George and Katherine Kehias of Pana.
He started work in the candy shop named for his father, George, when he was nine years old. He graduated from Pana High school in 1942 and attended University of Illinois, Champaign for one year. Mr. Kehias then served in the U.S. Army for 3 1/2 years. Afterward, he attended Wayne University in Detroit, Michigan.
Av returned home to Pana to begin partnership in 1949 with his friend, August “Augie” Kronshagen at George’s Candy Shop. George’s Candy Shop had its start in 1914 on South Locust Street, and moved to its landmark corner in 1941. The popular enterprise was famous for its handmade candy, soda shop, ice cream made there for 50 years, caramel apples in the fall, and hot Spanish peanuts and vast newspaper and magazine racks. It was a traditional meeting place for coffee drinkers and other clientele of all ages. The business closed in 1991.
As a youth, Av was active in Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He became a scout leader and served in that capacity for many years. In 1968, he received the Silver Beaver Award for his work in scouting.
George’s Corner at Locust and Second streets served as the leaving point (and return) for the scout-focused George McClung Trail that led to Rosemond Grove Cemetery. Although it phased from active use, some years later, in 2006, the McClung trek was revised.
The past partners, Av and Aug, were honored in September 1991 as grand marshals of the Pana Labor Day Parade, and celebrated their 80th birthdays together at an open event in 2004.
Avgary Kehias served the community as member of Pana Lions Club, Pana Chamber of Commerce, past president; and was a recipient of the Pana Jaycees Distinguished Citizen Award. He and his wife, the former Linda Miller Mathias, performed as clowns as a hobby for a number of years.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete at McCracken-Dean Funeral Home, Pana.