HOISINGTON — Alan Charles, Hoisington’s long-time elementary school principal, was surprised to learn earlier this summer he had been chosen as the 2019 Labor Day grand marshal.
He recently retired after 46 years in education, all within the Hoisington school district. He taught for 12 years before becoming the principal of the elementary school.
Because of the nature of education and a teaching career, he hasn’t been home to Ohio to visit his family during the month of September for nearly 50 years. Seeing the autumnal changes there is one thing he’s looking forward to this year. That, and spending time with his mother, now 92 years old.
Charles grew up on a western Ohio farm, where his family grew corn and soybeans and raised hogs and cattle. He had a talent for baseball, and attended Sterling College here in Kansas on a baseball scholarship, graduating in 1973.
In his early years as a teacher, he spent summers working at the Stickney and Susank elevators, helping area farmers, and for 16 years he adjusted crop hail damage. That summer job took him all over the state, he recalls fondly.
“Farmers always know the best places to eat,” he said.
Charles earned his master’s degree at Fort Hays State University and then moved into administration, filling the role of elementary school principal for the remainder of his long career.
“I really liked the size of the district,” he said. “We have great teachers and great staff.”
He and superintendent Bill Lowry had a good working relationship, he said. While he was already considering retirement, when he learned Lowry was retiring at the end of the 2019 school year he felt the time was right for him to retire as well.
A member of both Hoisington’s Lions and Jaycees clubs when the organizations were active, he volunteered in the community in various capacities. As a Lions Club member, he enjoyed helping with ticketing at the annual Demolition Derby during the Labor Day weekend events for several years. Volunteering in that way allowed him to catch up with many people he didn’t have the opportunity to talk to any other time of the year, he said.
Charles met and married his wife Mary (Billinger) Charles, a Hoisington native, not long after he moved to the city. They grew their family to include two daughters. Today, Sarah Niehues, their oldest, is the Assistant Special Education Director in Concordia, and Jessica Garvert, their youngest, is in a supervisory position with GTM Sportswear in Manhattan. They will be in Hoisington with their families, including the Charles’s grandchildren, for Labor Day weekend to cheer for Alan and Mary at the parade.