By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor
Just days before the 2008 Roosevelt County Fair opens, fair lovers have learned of the death of one of its biggest supporters.
Floyd McAlister, who was Roosevelt County Extension agent for more than 22 years, died late Wednesday in Lubbock. He was 64.
People are remembering him as the backbone of the fair and the ring announcer each year. His co-workers at the Roosevelt Extension Office say he was a strong leader and good role model for area youth.
According to Roosevelt County Fair Board President Tim Allison, even though McAlister had been forced to retire in 2007 because of a brain disease, his death is a shock. He said the board is making plans to dedicate this year’s fair to his memory.
“He was just one of those guys who was always there,” Allison said. “You could count on him.”
Allison said that he’s known McAlister all of his life and his knowledge and dedication to whatever he was doing was amazing.
“If you had a question you would go ask Floyd,” Allison said. “He had a lot of straight-forward, good answers for us. He’s going to be missed.”
McAlister became the county extension agent in March of 1985 and co-worker Jackie Clark went to work in the office two weeks later. She said the opportunity to work with McAlister was a great joy.
“He always really thought through things well before he made a decision,” Clark said.
Clark attended school with McAlister in Floyd and said even in back then his work in 4-H projects stood out. She said he showed Jersey heifers and went on to win numerous state and national awards with his projects and books.
She said fair time was special to McAlister and he would put in countless hours there each year.
One year he was at the microphone announcing shows and Clark said she could see he was looking a little drowsy. Someone had come by with a new midway treat — a dill pickle snowcone.
“I thought it would be so funny to take him a pickle snowcone, so I did it,” Clark said. “He took a big bite of it and after he recovered he pointed across a me and said ‘I’m going to get you.’”
The next day Clark said everything from her office was in boxes in the hall outside.
Nancy Gentry, who worked with McAlister as a fair board member and on other committees, said he was tireless.
“I guess what I remember about him most was he was the hardest working volunteer I ever knew,” Gentry said. “He never complained or got mad at anybody.”
Allison said plans are still ongoing but McAlister will likely be remembered in the programs and printed material as well as from the announcer’s microphone where he spent so much of his time at the fair.
Clark said McAlister was a strong and dedicated Christian and modeled that in his life.
“He believed in honesty and wanted the kids to learn that,” Clark said. “He always said that if kids were involved (in 4-H) they would never be bored.”
McAlister graduated from Texas Tech University in 1966 with a degree in agriculture education. He later completed his master’s degree at New Mexico State University, where he became a full professor.
He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Roosevelt County Chamber’s Workhorse Award, the 4-H Alumni Award and was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame at New Mexico State. He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the National County Agent’s Association.
In 2003 he took a 4-H judging team to nationals in Wisconsin.
Services for Floyd McAlister are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Wheeler Mortuary Chapel. Burial will be at the Floyd Cemetery.