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Commentary: Honoring Alta Sargent

Alta Sargent.jpg
Brenda Allison
courtesy photo
Alta Oldham Sargent

The GFWC Macomb Woman’s Club built a statue in 2015 called “Facing the Storm”, honoring the social service efforts of all women, past present, and future. The statue is located in Chandler Park. It recognizes the efforts of the early pioneers of female social activism who lived in or near Macomb. It is a beautiful bronze statue of a woman and little girl with a kitten in costumes of the 1900’s standing against the wind. The force of the wind reflects the perseverance needed to invoke changes, while the child and the pet reflect the social commitment to protect those in need.

To continue the desire to honor all women of our past, present and future, the club selects a local woman who has distinguished herself as a humanitarian to be honored posthumously. Our 2021-2022 “Facing the Storm” humanitarian award will be in honor of Alta Oldham Sargent. Alta, a 62 year member of the GFWC Macomb Woman’s Club will be honored May 4 at the Macomb Field House at 1:30 pm. The public is invited to attend.

Alta was such a person whose strength and caring nature is reflected in the statue.

She was born December 18, 1921 and passed away on September 16, 2020 at the age of 98. Besides being a 62 year member of the Macomb Woman’s Club , she was a long term member of the Order of Eastern Star, White Shrine of Jerusalem, 70 year member of the First Presbyterian Church and a charter member of the local Altrusa Club. She was a 1942 graduate of Western Illinois Teachers College and taught Home Economics, Math and Science at LaHarpe High School.

Alta played an active role in organizing the hospital auxiliary to support the new McDonough District Hospital with a gift and coffee shop. The woman’s auxiliary started making hand-made items for sale in a small gift shop. Alta began making dolls and she was famous for her Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Alta became the volunteer manager for the shops and provided training for others.

She was instrumental in starting the Altrusa Holiday Bazaar. Alta suggested a bazaar to help individuals sell their craft items. The Altrusa Bazaar continues today. The proceeds from the bazaar continue to fund projects such as the summer tutoring program for area school children.

In 1958 as a member of the Macomb Park Board she was influential in obtaining the land donation from John and Hazel Patton for the area known as Patton Park.

As a licensed funeral director from 1958-1983 she was the only female member of the Illinois Funeral Directors Association District 3A. Alta owned and operated the Sargent Funeral Home with her husband Drexel. Before hospitals and fire departments provided ambulance services it was customary for the funeral homes to provide the services. For many years they provided free ambulance services. Alta took care of the patients.

Alta hosted members of the International community in her home and tutored college students learning English.

In 2008 she received the “Ageless Achiever Award” and in 2016 the“Writing Women Into History Award” for her lifelong volunteer contributions.

Alta Sargent was a tireless volunteer for our community and what I shared with you is only a small portion of her impact in the Macomb Community.

Everyone is invited to attend the award ceremony honoring Alta Sargent on May 4, 2022 at 1:30pm at the Macomb Fieldhouse.

Brenda Allison is President of the Macomb Women’s Club.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.