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Alice Jo Leonard Named 2016 St. Pat’s Celebration Grand Marshal

By Staff | Feb 23, 2016

GRAND MARSHAL -- Alice Jo Leonard of Emmetsburg has been named Grand Marshal of the 2016 St. Patrick’s Celebration. St. Pat’s co-chairs Andy Joyce (left) and Dave VanOosbree (right) congratulated Alice Jo and presented her with her sash of honor last week. Alice Jo will attend all of the activities during the March celebration. --Jane Whitmore photo

When a group of friends from Emmetsburg’s St. Pat’s Association showed up at Alice Jo Leonard’s door, she had no idea they were there to ask her to be the Grand Marshal of the St. Pat’s Parade.

“It was a complete surprise. I had never thought about it (being Grand Marshal),” said Alice Jo. “A whole bunch of people showed up and we celebrated.”

“Alice Jo was a rather reluctant recipient,” commented St. Pat’s co-chair Andy Joyce.

She is not the only Grand Marshal from Great Oak. Also on the list are Great Oakers (and relatives) Dick Higgins, Johnny Higgins, Ned Munn and Rich Higgins.

Alice Jo Leonard is proud of her Irish heritage. She will proudly be wearing green this St Patrick’s Day and throughout the 2016 St. Patrick’s Celebration the following weekend.

Parade day, March 19, Alice Jo will be serving as Grand Marshal and she will be celebrating a milestone birthday.

A true Irishman, Alice Jo’s grandparents came from County Cork in Ireland. The McCabe family settled in Great Oak Township and the Leonard family settled a farm near Graettinger. Alice Jo was raised in Great Oak.

Alice Jo left Great Oak to pursue a teaching career. When she first began, teachers needed only two years of schooling. She continued with summer courses and earned her degree from Drake University. Alice Jo taught lower elementary (second, third and fourth grades) for 25 years, all in Catholic Schools. She taught in Carroll, Cherokee, Spencer and Emmetsburg.

Her second career was as dietary supervisor at Lakeside Lutheran Home in Emmetsburg for 11 years. After retiring, she continues to volunteer at Lakeside.

Alice Jo Leonard has been to Ireland three times. She has stories to tell of her trips and tours, enjoying visiting with relatives. In fact, second cousins may be coming to help Alice Jo celebrate next month.

“I’ve been a long time member of the St. Pat’s Association and haven’t missed a celebration,” says Alice Jo. “I usually help with the Mulligan Stew dinner at the Senior Center and after the parade we all go to the Fire Hall for the Gathering of the Clans.”

Alice Jo has kept busy during her retirement years. She is an active member of Holy Family Parish, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, and serves as a Eucharistic minister, and distributes communion at Lakeside Lutheran Home. She volunteers at the parish, works at and furnishes food for funeral dinners, and helps during Grandparents Day at the school.

Alice Jo is a member of the Palo Alto County Hospital Foundation Board and a member of Palo Alto County Hospital Auxiliary. For years, Alice Jo worked on the election board, registering voters at the polls, and she was a volunteer with the BABES program. Alice Jo is a member of the Scarlet O’Hatta Chapter of the Red Hat Society in Emmetsburg.

Alice Jo is a board member and serves on the selection committee for the Eugene Leonard Scholarships. Scholarships are awarded annually to Emmetsburg High School students pursuing a college degree.

As Grand Marshal, Alice Jo will be attending all of the events during the St. Patrick’s Celebration. She will be at the St. Pat’s Open House, the Miss Shamrock Pageants, and the famous St. Pat’s Parade. Family and friends will join Alice Jo in celebrating her 80th birthday on Saturday, March 19.

A letter of nomination for Alice Jo to serve as Grand Marshal sums it up: “She knows no stranger. Her door is always open as she is very congenial and you can always enjoy a good laugh with her.”