Al Joe Wallace

Al Joe Wallace is Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS. (Photo by Becky Rathbun)

Al Joe Wallace is Rural by Choice in Lincoln County, KS. (Photo by Becky Rathbun)

For Al Joe Wallace, residing rural has always been a constant throughout his life.

“I’ve always lived rural,” Wallace said.

Wallace, who currently serves as one of the Lincoln County Commissioners, has lived at the same farmstead for his entire life in the Salt Creek township.

“I like the community,” Wallace said. “I like the people, and so I had no desire to leave.”

Wallace’s great-grandfather originally homesteaded in the Salt Creek township, which, according to Google Maps, is about 14 miles northeast of Barnard, and Wallace’s father continued the farming operation, he said. Wallace said he and his cousin continue farming in the area.

“I have been active in farming my entire life,” Wallace said.

In addition to farming, Wallace maintained another passion in life: education.

Wallace taught for 33 years in the USD 298 school district prior to his retirement, mostly teaching math to fourth, fifth and sixth graders, he said.

“My aunts and my mother and I taught for 75 consecutive years,” he said.

Currently, Wallace is active within the Lion’s Club, he said, and has been involved with it for over 30 years, helping with annual events such as Thanksgiving dinners, biscuits and gravy meals and Memorial Day weekend hamburger barbecues, among other events.

“My father was a Lion, and I wasn’t a Lion until he died,” he said.

Wallace is currently the treasurer on the Salt Creek watershed board, and has been involved with it for over 20 years, he said.

He also attends two church services every Sunday, at the United Methodist and First Baptist churches, both located in Barnard.

Wallace gets together with other Barnard residents for morning coffee at the elevator regularly too, he said.
“That’s kind of an important thing in the community,” he said.

He was also involved when the community came together to raise money for the community building in Barnard in the 1990s.

“They saw that need in the 1990s, and it has been the focal point of Barnard,” he said.

When Wallace has visitors to Lincoln County, he said, they marvel at the opportunity to view sunsets and sunrises unobstructed. He also said seeing the night sky and stars is a treat for out-of-town guests.

“They like the slower pace of life,” he said. “I think they’re always amazed [at] how [quickly] the weather changes … no day is usually the same as the one before.”

Wallace said he also enjoys that there is not much traffic in Lincoln County.

“I hate traffic,” he said. “My brother lives in [Washington D.C.]. I like to visit him, but [it has] too many people.”

By Hailey Dixon for the 2018 Live Lincoln County magazine