Alice Ruwe McAllister left us on March 24, 2022, to join our Heavenly Father and rejoin her husband, Eugene “E.F.” McAllister.
A Memorial Mass celebrating her life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 28, 2022 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Davenport. Visitation will be one hour prior to the Mass at church. In lieu of flowers, please make any memorials in honor of Alice either to St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Davenport or Sacred Heart Catholic School in Maquoketa. Halligan McCabe DeVries Funeral Home in Davenport is assisting the family with arrangements.
Alice was born to Tillie and Henry Ruwe in Walcott, Iowa on September 28, 1920. She graduated from Davenport High School (now Central) and went on to Iowa State Teacher’s College (now UNI) to obtain her teacher’s certificate. She taught in a one-room school house (Cleona #4), teaching grades kindergarten through eighth. Alice left teaching and joined the Walcott Bank as a teller.
She married Eugene McAllister on September 20, 1950. They had five children and, like many WWII era families, Gene became the family bread-winner, while Alice stayed home to care for Marcia, Maureen, Mary, Mark and Matt.
Alice found herself widowed in November of 1968 at age 48 with five children (the youngest then age five). She dusted off her teaching certificate and rejoined the working world as a part-time teacher at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School, the school of the family’s parish. Alice loved her time at St. Paul’s, spending the next 20 years teaching there, before retiring in 1989. During those years at St. Paul’s, Mom also went back to college during the evening and attained her B.A. from Marycrest College in 1977.
Even after retirement, Mom’s teaching skills did not rest. For years, she volunteered by teaching adults to read. She also volunteered at Garfield Elementary School and, after moving to Palmer Hills Retirement Residence, at Hoover Elementary School. Upon her relocation to Maquoketa, she shared her love of reading with students from Sacred Heart Elementary School, the Y summer camp children and fellow residents at Clover Ridge retirement center.
Mom had a tremendous gentleness to her make-up and she respected everyone, including her kindergarten students. Mom’s St. Paul’s teaching career began as a third-grade teacher, but her last years were spent in kindergarten. We’ve heard numerous stories from her students, who have made a point of letting Mom and her children know how important she was in their lives. We’ve been approached too many times to mention in doctor’s offices, grocery stores, churches and, a favorite, at a Hawkeye tailgating party. There, we learned that Mom never graded papers with a red pen, but used a green ink pen. It still got the message across that some issue needed improvement, but it wasn’t as harsh and scolding as red ink. Little things, but what a difference they can make to a small child and that child’s sense of self. Mom said the most important thing she could teach a kindergartner was to enjoy school.
Mom was a voracious reader and found just about every topic to be interesting. One lesson that ran throughout her life was “never stop learning”, never pass up the chance for further education. Mom believed a good education could solve so many of our society’s problems and would reduce the meanness that seems so prevalent at times. She believed that a broader vocabulary would eliminate some of the vile language people use to get their points across. She often said that, if you have a strong grasp of our language, you’ll find words that will make your point better than resorting to something considered vulgar, used simply to gain attention.
With all the attention and kindness she showed towards her students, we kids often say we hit the lottery when it came to a mother. She was kind, a tremendous listener, patient, reasonable and funny. Other kids spoke of their parents getting mad. Our Mom never got mad. On the other hand, she did get “disappointed”. Mom’s disappointment was tougher to handle than any punishment. In retrospect, it is so clear that all moments of our young lives were teaching moments for Mom and she used them to her fullest advantage. She would frequently remind us that “if you don’t have family, you don’t have anything.” Her love for us was unconditional, as ours is for her.
A die-hard Cub fan, a loyal Hawkeye, faithful to the Catholic Church, she knew no boundaries when it came to being kind and helpful. We lost a gentle soul, but our loss is Heaven’s gain.
Thank you, Mom.
In addition to her five children, Alice is survived by beloved sons- and daughters-in law, eight grandchildren, three great grandchildren and many other family members.