Retired Postmaster Chosen as Grand Marshall

Casey Jarmes
The News-Review

KEOTA – Longtime Keota resident Larry Sanders was chosen to be the Grand Marshall of sesquicentennial festivities in June. Sanders was born in 1949 and has lived in Keota for his entire life, save for a few years he spent at Iowa State and three and a half years spent in the U.S. Navy.

“I’m very honored that it came at the time of the 150th because I am very deep into Keota history,” said Sanders. Currently, he is in the process of digging through old phone books and newspapers to make an accurate list of the locations of every Keota business since 1876. Sanders plans to make an album containing photographs and this information after the sesquicentennial celebration ends. “I am ever grateful and thankful to the old editors of the Eagles…If there was something going on in Keota they noted it…If you came to Keota and broke your foot, it would be in the Eagle next week…They did a fantastic job and that’s where I’m getting the bulk of my information,” said Sanders. “My only problem was, as I do this research, I get sidetracked with all the other stories that happened back then.”

From 1982 till 2004, Sanders worked as Keota’s postmaster. “I lived four blocks from the post office. I walked to and from work every morning and late afternoon and I really enjoyed my job. I loved my job,” said Sanders. “I sorted all our mail by hand…If somebody came to town needing some information or something I was able to meet them. And when I sorted mail, I sorted it all by name and not by address. So I knew everybody. I knew everybody in town, everybody in the country, and I just loved doing that.”

Since retiring, Sanders has become very involved in supporting local veterans. He runs the Keota Flag Project, which places flags with name plates at cemeteries and small flags on the graves of veterans every memorial day. Each year, Sanders and his sons put up close to 200 flags. He is the quartermaster for the Keota Veterans of Foreign Wars and the adjutant of the Keota American Legion. Sanders also helped extensively in creating the Keota Veterans Memorial.

Since 1988, Sanders has owned the malt shop on Broadway, which is currently only open during the summer. According to its sign, it is “The Best Little Malt Shop In Keota.”

Sanders is a former member of the Keota Historical Museum and is very proud of all the work that current and past members have done. Sanders also helps out at Lagos Acres, managing seniors tournaments and picking up cans, and helps deliver newspapers late at night. “I always say I have 16 jobs and get paid for 4,” said Sanders.” He is a big fan of flea markets, garage sales, and auctions, and sells golf balls at the What Cheer Flea Market. “I love that because I meet so many wonderful people up there at the flea market. It’s just like the post office,” said Sanders.

“There was a time when things were pretty bad,” Sanders said, when asked about his time in Keota. “We had a bunch of store closings. That’s when the farm economy was down and everything was looking bleak. We lost our lumber yard. We lost our grocery store. We lost the wholesale store and we lost a few other stores. They just closed. The big stores in the big city just really hurt them. And today, the things that people order online are really hurting our businesses. But we have been very lucky that many of our businesses, the vacant places, have come back. And now we only have a few vacant places on Main Street and there has been an interest in filling those places…I’m just always positive. And I just hope things will continue good.”

“I always try my best to greet people with a ‘good morning’ no matter what time of day it is. Sometimes when I tell people I am from Keota, Iowa, they will ask me where Keta and I will tell that ‘Keota is 3 miles northwest of Paris Valley and 4 miles south of Nira.’”




The News-Review

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