Holifield Honored as Grand Marshal
"I've helped with about everything that raised money for the community or went to a good cause."
These words, spoken by 2013 Rector Labor Day Picnic Grand Marshall Jane Holifield, essentially sum up why Holifield is such an outstanding choice for the aforementioned honor. Holifield, 89, has long been a tireless worker within the Rector community. She has donated, collected, cooked, cleaned, built and perspired for essentially every community organization in Rector. From organizing blood drives to donating to college scholarship funds, Holifield has truly earned her reputation as one of Rector's most caring and giving individuals.
"I didn't do any of this for recognition," Holifield said. "Anything I ever did, I did it to help others who needed it. There are a lot of folks who did the same. I don't feel like I'm anything special."
This sentimentality is part of what makes Holifield such a wonderful part of a community. In a time when there is no shortage of self-styled leaders, Holifield has always been happy to remain in the background, doing the necessary work behind every worthy cause.
"I don't ever want to be the leader. I want to do the work and all that. That's what I like doing, and that's what I'll do. I don't want to be the chief."
Holifield was a member of the Rector Woman's Club for over 50 years. As part of the organization, she was instrumental in working to build the Rector Public Library and the Rector Community Museum. She has also been a part of the Extension Homemaker's Club for the past 40 years.
"I've always tried to stay busy," she said. "I enjoy going out and being around other people far too much to stay home all the time."
Holifield was contacted about her selection as Grand Marshall by Woodland Heights Cemetery Association member Richard Simmons.
"I was never as shocked in my life as I was when he called to tell me I was the Grand Marshall," Holifield said. "I can't believe this. I thought there were so many people more deserving. It's very flattering."
After graduating from Rector High School, Holifield attended Mohler Beauty College in St. Louis. She soon married her late husband, Doyle, who was drafted into the Army when the United States entered World War II. During this time, the couple was stationed in Eugene, Ore. When Doyle was transferred to Burma, she relocated to Rector. After the war, he joined her here, and the couple made the community their home, building the house in which Holifield resides to this day.
"We built this house and I've lived here ever since. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be. I love this community and all the wonderful people I've known over the years."
Holifield worked for the Rector and Greenway schools for 28 years as federal coordinator. She helped secure federal funds for a number of programs, including assisting students with needs outside of the classroom.
"I wrote up the grants," Holifield said. "With federal money, we were able to take schoolchildren to the dentist, buy them clothes; whatever they needed to fit in and get the most out of being in school. I cared about each of those kids and wanted them to be taken care of."
Holifield left the school in 1988 to care for Doyle and other ailing family members.
"My family needed me and I needed to be with them," she said.
It's no surprise Holifield has spent much of the years since working to aid others whenever possible.
"To me, the work was its own reward. If you can help someone with a little work, why not do it? I've worked hard all my life, but listen, I didn't mind working. That's just the way I am."
As Grand Marshall, Holifield will lead the Labor Day Parade.
"I'm so excited," she said. "Labor Day has always been a special day here. I'm so proud we support our cemetery with this wonderful picnic. I always have out-of-state company. I look forward to Labor Day every year. I get to see the parade from the other side this year."