Grand giver

Doug Boock
Keith Carter, this year’s grand marshal for the July 4 parade in Galva, pauses in front of the water fountain in Veterans Memorial Park on June 26. Carter was chosen to lead the parade because of his longtime service to the city of Galva.

Keith Carter’s lived a long life. He was born in 1929.

“That’s 19 not 18,” he quips.

Times were tough. It was the Depression.

“The bottom went to heck after I was born,” Carter mused.

Since that time, though, Carter’s lived a full life. Included is over four decades of public service, including 41 years with the Galva Fire Department – 17 as chief – and 17 years as a combined Galva city collector/coordinator/clerk. In August, he’ll turn 79.

It’s enough to make the flat-topped Carter grin.

“I’m pretty old . . . but not as old as some,” he smiles. “It didn’t seem that I’d ever live to be this old. And I’d feel pretty good, if everything (bodily) wasn’t going to pot.”

Last week alone, Carter had cataract surgery on each eye, had a stent replaced in a blood vessel connected to his kidney, and received kidney dialysis three days, something he’s done since December.

“Four hours a whack,” he said of dialysis.

Those health hurdles slowed him down a bit, but they hopefully won’t get in the way this Friday, when Carter is grand marshal of the July 4 parade in Galva. It’s an honor he appreciates, but typically makes light of.

“It’s a surprise,” he said. “Some of the people congratulate me and everything and I just say, ‘Well, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel’” (in choosing him).

A few minutes later, though, it’s evident that the honor is one of the most meaningful he’s received.

“You bet. Absolutely,” he replies quickly, when asked.

In 1976, Carter began nearly two decades of wearing three occupational hats for the City of Galva. During that time, he did what he knew best: he served.

“I was trying to help the city and the people in the city, doing what I could,” he explained. “Just like with the fire department – whenever you’re called, somebody needs help.”

Carter also served 14 years on the board of the Housing Authority of Henry County, and seven years on the board for Youth Services Bureau. He also still helps the city a bit, helping keep track of Galva Cemetery records.

“Just to help out a little,” he explains.

“I thought it was very important,” he said of his volunteer work. “I also thought If I could do anything to help, I’d try.”