Pat and Tracy Anderson were named grand marshals of this year’s Kalona Days parade.

Dozens of faded photographs of smiling faces lined the walls of the room.

There’s a law degree. Beside it sits a certificate of retirement.

An award honoring exceptional teaching adorns the wall across from them.

And there are pill bottles. More than a dozen litter a table.

Tracy Anderson sits in a recliner across from his wife, Pat, to whom he has been married for nearly 60 years.

“I always tell people, ‘I always love him, but sometimes I don’t like him,’” she said with a smile.

Behind all of the aged photographs and bottles of medication is a story – a long story of two people who have spent decades involved in community service.

Pat and Tracy Anderson were named the grand marshals of this year’s Kalona Days parade. They will ride at the start of the parade on Saturday.

“We get to ride in a convertible,” Pat said excitedly.

The two met attending Iowa State Teachers College, now the University of Northern Iowa. Pat studied teaching while Tracy studied social science.

“Oh, he loved me from the beginning. He went home and told his roommate that he thought he just met his wife,” Pat said.

After graduating from college in 1960, the pair moved to Iowa City for a year, where Tracy completed his master’s in American diplomatic history, while Pat began teaching at Kalona Elementary.

Degrees in hand, the couple moved to Kalona, where Tracy joined his wife in working as a schoolteacher.

They briefly moved to Estherville to continue their teaching before moving into a house across the street from Kalona Elementary. 

One of the first things they did was plant a tree in their back yard, figuratively putting down roots.

Those roots have grown deep.

Upon arriving in Kalona, Pat noted that the pair thought that people were “nosy” but soon came to realize that they were simply trying to welcome them into the community.

The pair has two biological sons, Cary and Jay, and an “acquired” daughter, Vickie.

They took Vickie into their home as a young adult but did not formally adopt her. Years later, Tracy gave her away at her wedding.

Vickie isn’t the only person that the Andersons took in. 

For the Andersons, their idea of family goes beyond the dictionary definition.

Pat explains that she didn’t have extended family while growing up, and she was determined to provide for others what she herself never had. 

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