Vera McAlister is Grand Marshal for Patriot 4th of July parade

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When organizers of the annual Fourth of

July parade through downtown Patriot called

Vera McAlister to inform her that she’d been

chosen as this year’s Grand Marshal, she was

overwhelmed.

“I’d rather be in the background looking in

than in front of all those people looking out,”

she laughed. “It’s really an honor, but I’m sure

there are many other deserving people.”

Vera has lived in the Patriot area her entire

life. She was born on North Branch, the daughter

of Howard and Virginia Kinman; and she

graduated from Patriot High School in 1949.

She said that another family who lived near

her family while she was growing up had a son,

Howard “Whitey” McAlister, and although she

says there was no memorable moment when

the two met, she knew all about him while she

was growing up.

“He went to Patriot School, too,” Vera

McAlister said. “He had graduated in 1942,

and I had known the family. Just seeing each

other at school and seeing each other out here

in the country.”

The two married on December 26th, 1948;

and after living for a year in a house on land

that Tony Gregory now owns; the couple

moved to North Branch Road in 1950.

The home that Vera still lives in to this day.

“We bought this in March of 1950,” she said.

“We’ve got deep roots here. Too deep to move

anywhere else.”

The couple had two sons: oldest son Steve

and younger son Lynn; and in addition to

establishing and operating a family excavating

business; they also shared a love of service to

country.

“Whitey was in World War II; and then Steve

was in Germany during the Vietnam War, and

Lynn was in the Indiana National Guard during

that conflict,” Vera McAlister said. “They all

three were in the service.”

The family is well known for its excavation

business. Vera McAlister said that she

was working at Schenley and Whitey was

working for the Switzerland County Highway

Department for years; and the couple also

milked a herd of cows.

“One day he came home and said that he

thought he would sell the cows and we would

buy a bulldozer,” Vera McAlister said. “So

that was in 1971, and when the boys got back

from the service, they said that they liked that

kind of work, too, so we just sort of kept on

going.”

Vera said that when they started the business,

they were digging ponds and basements

for houses and do clearing of property and

those sorts of jobs; but after Steve and Lynn

got involved in the business, they decided that

they wanted to get into building bridges; so

McAlister Excavating is certified by the state

of Indiana.

“We’ve come a long way, we started with

one bulldozer and then we got a backhoe and

then we just kept adding until we got what we

do today,” she laughed. “It kind of went like a

snowball.”

The company is now in its third generation,

as Dan McAlister, Lynn’s son and Vera’s

grandson, is heavily involved in the business.

Vera said that she has many memories of

how the town of Patriot has changed over the

years.

“I like this community. I was born and raised

about two miles outside of Patriot, and then in

1944 we moved to Patriot, and then they had

the 1945 flood; so my dad and grandpa said

that was it and we were moving back out on the

farm. I’ve got a lot of good memories.”

She said that the school in Patriot was a place

that everyone enjoyed; and the town itself was

much, much different than today.

“When I was a girl there were two grocery

stores and a barber shop and a meat shop and

a coal yard and a feed store and two hardware

stores,” she remembers. “There was a big

post office. We had everything, but nowadays

there’s just one store down there. Nothing’s

like it used to be.”

Along with her two sons, Vera McAlister has

four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren

– and there’s an 11th coming this October. Her

family will be looking on with pride tomorrow

(Friday) as she leads this year’s parade.

“When they asked me, I thought, ‘Oh my

goodness. I never dreamed I’d be doing anything

like this’,” Vera McAlister said. “It is a

big honor, and I’m proud to be a part of the

community. It’s a good community and we’ve

got a neighborhood, and I’m proud of that. I’m

proud that they asked me.”

*

The town of Patriot will again host it Fourth

of July Parade and Community Celebration

tomorrow (Friday, July 4th). The lineup for the

parade will be held from 9-10:45 a.m. at the

Patriot Boat Ramp.

The parade itself gets underway through

downtown beginning at 11 a.m.

Following the parade, the Memorial Flag

Service will be held at the Memorial Park, with

veterans in attendance being given the honor

of lowering and retiring the old flags, and then

raising the new flags during the ceremony.

That will be followed by the Community

Picnic at Harris Park. Everyone is asked to

bring a covered dish to share.

Everyone is invited to attend.