Everyday Hero: Dr. Allan Patton

Everyday Hero: Allan Patton

Zeigler, Illinois is an old coal mining town.

As the industry disappeared, so did its people.

Now, residents of old see only what once was.

Except for Dr. Allan Patton.

This Everyday Hero is sparking new life, starting with the next generation.

Born in West Frankfort, Illinois, Dr. Allan Patton and his family moved to Zeigler when his father went off to fight in World War II.

He's lived here ever since.

"We have enjoyed staying here and living here because we know all the folks and I enjoy helping this community," said Everyday Hero Dr. Allan Patton.

So much so, it's pretty much become a full-time job.

But you won't hear Allan complain.

His idea of being retired is finding something to occupy his free time.

"Just seems like a couple of days ago but it's been 17 years but I work somewhere every day and it keeps you young and active," he said.

During his decades in education, Allan witnessed both the highs and lows of working with students.

Namely, that not all kids have the same support and resources at home.

Something highlighted on a snowy night this past January as Allan and his wife were driving by the library in town.

"And there were 3-4 young children sitting on the park bench outside the library doing their homework," Dr. Patton recalled. "Because they weren't wealthy enough to have Wi-Fi at home."

A sobering moment that inspired Allan to lead the charge for a computer lab, housed in the library, where kids could do their homework.

"And here we said, we've gotta have a place for the kids."

And now they do.

It took a few months but the lab has 32 computers and a tutor 2 days a week.

"We can increase their ability in technology and hopefully improve their future," said Dr. Patton.

So how did he do it?

Well, by combining two of his great loves: his hometown and education.

"As Tour #1 went through the appropriate streets there'd be a sign there and a narrator would give you the history of that sign," he said.

Allan created a special history tour for the Zeigler homecoming this year.

He sold booklets for $10 a piece and brought in donations.

"It's a tour guide that will explain each of the signs so I have four more stories that were pretty good so 120 stories appear in this," Dr. Patton said.

Allan doesn't need the recognition or even require a thank you.

He just hopes to improve his town and its kids chance for a bright future.

"To let them know there are adults who care for them and who can direct them," he said.

If you know of an Everyday Hero in your life, please let us know.
Just click here to make your nomination.
We'll profile an Everyday Hero each month on Heartland News and all of our heroes will be honored at the annual Red Cross recognition luncheon.

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