A Vandalia woman who was raised here, then became involved in numerous community organizations after moving back is the grand marshal for the 72nd annual Vandalia Lions Club Halloween parade.
Mary Truitt, who has been a Lions Club member since 1991 and has served as the president of the organization, was chosen to lead this year’s parade, which begins at 7 p.m. this Thursday.
This year's parade marks the one-year anniversary of the car-train wreck that killed a Greenville woman and three of her children.
Mayor Rick Gottman said the city will observe a moment of silence at the start of the parade. A Vandalia fire truck will blow its air horn four times, followed by a moment of silence and the ringing of the St. James Lutheran Church bell four times.
Truitt was 7 years old when she moved to Vandalia from Edwardsville with her parents, Harry and Gladys Truitt.
She moved back to Vandalia in 1991, after teaching home economics in Wisconsin for 35 years.
“I wanted to teach history, but Southern (Illinois University) wouldn't let me, because they said I would never get a job,” Truitt said, explaining that at the time, many men teaching history were also being hired as coaches.
Upon moving back 14 years ago, she began an 11-year teaching career at Vandalia Correctional Center, where she taught such classes as family relations and child development.
It was also in 1991 that Truitt joined the Lions, an organization in which her father was heavily involved. During her tenure as a Lion, she has served in a number of offices, including president. She has also served as a district governor, and currently is the district’s global leadership team leader.
Truitt has also been a member of the Vandalia Woman’s Club, National Road Association of Illinois Board of Directors, Historic Vandalia Inc., Vandalia Tourism Commission and Crawford-Hale American Legion Unit 95 Auxiliary and Abraham Lincoln National Area steering committee. She’s also active in her church, First Presbyterian Church of Vandalia.
She has served as president of the Woman’s Club and National Road Association Board, and as treasurer of the Historic Vandalia.
Her reason for being involved in community organizations is simple – “It’s fun.
“You keep up with what’s going on in the community,” she said. “I really enjoy helping other people, which is what they organizations do.”
Anyone who knows Truitt knows that she has a strong interest in history, particularly Vandalia’s history.
“When you involved in organizations, you talk to others about your city, and they visit … and they bring money,” she said, talking about the financial benefit of the tourism industry to Vandalia.