Alleman a pillar of the Putnam County community
GRANVILLE — Putnam County lost a true hall-of-famer with the passing of Darrell Alleman on March 1.
A lifelong area farmer, Alleman, 88, may have been best known for turning a parcel of farmland next to his home into a baseball field for local children.
Inspired by the movie “Field of Dreams,” Alleman created a field in 2010 that became the site of an annual community event that also attracted actors from the 1989 film and others who donned the classic White Sox uniforms and recreated some of the most popular scenes.
“I love sitting on my porch or in my sunroom and watching them enjoy it. It’s work and an expense, but it’s worth it,” Alleman previously said of watching local children play on his diamond.
He spent his entire life within the small area between Tonica and Granville and farmed the same land near Magnolia for 49 years. Subsequently, he knew the area well and loved it and its people.
“Darrell Alleman was a pillar of the community for his involvement with our schools, youth, civic organizations, and many other local activities,” Steve Malavolti, chairman of the Putnam County Board, said.
“He set the example for others; he was always smiling and a caring individual. When seen out and about in the county, one knew he had his camera ready for that one more picture or the opportunity have a conversation,” Malavolti said.
“He’ll truly be missed, and the county extends our deepest sympathy to his family,” he said.
Born in 1929, Alleman married Jeanne, the love of his life, in 1951. They were married for 64 years and had four children before Jeanne, a beloved second-grade teacher, died in 2015.
The Allemans were deeply rooted in the schools of Putnam County, and Darrell’s love of baseball earned him a place of honor in Putnam County Athletic Hall of Fame, as well as an honorary position as baseball coach.
“It’s with an extremely heavy heart to hear of the passing of Darrell Alleman,” PC School Superintendent Carl Carlson said.
“Darrell and his wife Jeanne were tremendous people and pillars of support for Putnam County. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone with a bigger heart or more pride for supporting our children and our community,” Carlson said.
“We’ll deeply miss seeing Darrell at events with that little smile on his face and wearing his black and gold PC gear. On behalf of the school district, we want to say thanks for all the generous support Darrell gave to the schools. We also send our condolences to the family. There are so many reasons why Darrell Alleman will forever remain a deserving member of the Putnam County Hall of Fame,” he said.
Alleman was also a prolific writer and a regular contributor to the Putnam County Record. His articles often touched on the friendships he enjoyed and the benefits of a small-town life.
Jeanne encouraged Darrell during his work collecting local veterans’ war stories which resulted in his book “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue: Stories of Everyday People at War.”
He’d been writing for many years for the Putnam County Rotary, the Marshall-Putnam Fair and the Putnam County Republican Party and began writing veteran stories in 2005 after being asked by the newspaper to profile a local veteran for Memorial Day.
Jeanne, who edited his writing, provided the needed encouragement to turn the 317 short stories he eventually collected into a book.
A Rotarian for more than 40 years, Alleman was active in nearly every project undertaken by the group and was a strong supporter of their humanitarian programs. His dedication toward improving and helping his hometown created a legacy of commitment that will inspire fellow members.
“He’ll always be remembered with a smile, and with admiration for his dedication to friends, family, and community service,” Rotarian Scott Shore said.
“Darrell was a man of many talents, too, as a farmer, collector of antique tractors, prolific writer, politician, historian, supporter of our schools and our country’s service veterans, and a dreamer — as best expressed by conceiving and creating his own Field of Dreams,” Shore said.
Shore said while everything Alleman wrote was in longhand, he was also technically proficient and was the first Rotary member to have his own computer projector, and with a laptop and thumb-drive he was “taking his show on the road” to share the stories of the veterans he’d interviewed for “Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue.”
“Darrell was one of a kind, and will be remembered as a friend and as a proud citizen of our country and of Putnam County,” Shore added.
One of Darrell’s last stories was published in January and was in honor of the life of his best friend. The last lines he wrote in the column were: “I will miss him along with everyone else. He was a thoughtful man, a good man, and loved by all,” which is a perfect sentiment about Darrell himself.