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The Green Castle Lions Club is proud to introduce the Grand Marshal of the 2023 Labor Day. She is Ethella McKee who was born and raised on the Sullivan/Adair County Line east of Winigan in 1933. The daughter of Carl and Sarah Farson, Ethella grew up about five miles east of Winigan. Kirksville was the closest school to their home, so she attended and graduated from high school in Kirksville in 1951. When Green City Schools reorganized, both her sisters graduated from Green City High School, though the family never moved.
Ethella worked as a nurses’ aide, took a year of college classes, and worked in the Radiology Department at the old Laughlin Hospital for six years. She retired after a 30-year career in bookkeeping from the Kirksville R-3 Schools in 1993.
Ethella married Jim McKee in June 1956. After Jim’s father passed away, the couple moved to the McKee Family Farm, Jim’s home place in December 1957 and eventually purchased the farm from Jim’s mother in 1962. This is the homestead where Ethella continues to live to this day. The farm has seen a lot of growth over the years, including the birth and raising of two McKee children. Ethella’s children are Doug McKee, M.D., who is an internal medicine specialist in Kansas City and Diane, who is Director of the Instructional Technologies Department at Truman State University in Kirksville. Diane is married to Jerry Richmond. Ethella is the proud grandmother to three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The McKee Family Farm was designated a Century Farm in 2014.
As Ethella recalls, the Green Castle Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1964 and Jim was one of the charter members. With the inception of the fire department, the members took on the responsibility of manning the cookshack over the Labor Day festivities, serving menu items such as juicy burgers, hot dogs, homemade pies, and cakes. The soda pop was in glass bottles and chilled in stock tanks filled with ice and water. Ethella remembers cooking 10 pounds of beef at a time for the juicy burgers and has done up to 20 pounds! She has helped in all the aspects – preparing food, working shifts, and preparing pies to serve. She said the cookshack has much improved since those days! Not only was Jim a charter member of the fire department, but he was also a charter member of the Green Castle Lions Club.
When most folks around Green Castle hear Ethella’s name, they think of the many, many dishes she has contributed to the community. Ethella has helped to prepare food and serve the Green Castle Community Christmas dinners each year, as well as for families’ funeral dinners when the need arises. She has prepared many a pie for our grateful community. Lion, April Dobrinske said Ethella was a very active member of the Methodist Church up till it’s closing in 2022. Ethella was instrumental in vacation bible school for many years and helped feed a lot of kids in our community! She continues to serve the Green Castle area by participating in the Green Castle Community Coalition. This past Easter, as a member the Green Castle Coalition Against Drugs, Ethella helped fill Easter eggs for the kids’ event in the park. She’s always willing to lend a hand whether it’s through donating her labor or baking a pie. She makes the BEST homemade angel food cake! The McKees have always been very community-minded, and Ethella very much deserves this honor!
Ethella says she enjoys watching the old traditions of Labor Day being carried on, but also is happy to see new traditions, along with new members getting involved. She said it’s a privilege to serve these communities and is honored to be serving as the 2023 Laobr Day Grand Marshal. (Photo/ Article submitted by April Dobrinske).