Remembering Ken McAlister

Yukon businessman beloved by community

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Irene and Ken McAlister enjoy a church event several years ago. (Photo provided)

By Carol Mowdy Bond
Contributing Writer

Kenneth Ray McAlister, a Yukon pharmacist, passed away on December 27 due to health issues complicated by COVID-19.

As a Yukon businessman of 60 years, McAlister, known as “Mac” or “Ken,” was well known by multiple generations of local residents. In 1960, he began working in a Conrad Marr Drug store in Oklahoma City. In 1962, he opened the 6th Conrad Marr store, located in Yukon. He and his son, Craig McAlister, co-owned Conrad Marr Drug, 948 S. Yukon Parkway, where the 88-year-old Ken was still working on a part-time basis.

After a time of quarantine in his home due to COVID-19, and then a week in the hospital, McAlister was unable to rally back to health. And just like other families struggling with many types of loss due to the pandemic and a challenging 2020, the McAlister family is also trying to find a way to cope with a void that cannot be filled.

But Ken’s wife of 45 years, Irene Vian McAlister, full of gratitude for the community and the response to their family during this time, wrote:

“There has been such an outpouring of cards, calls, flowers, prayers, donations, masses, and conversations with Craig at the store, with each sending comforting and warm feelings of affection to us. It is truly overwhelming and so needed. And there have been angels on my doorstep every day, with food to nourish the body and love to nourish my soul.”

She continued, “During this time of COVID-19 isolation, it has truly been shown how we really do need each other. Thank you ever so much for being there with us to walk this difficult road.

“Ken would be truly amazed at all of this attention given to him. May his dear soul rest in God’s loving presence.”

Described as happy, quiet, unassuming, focused, and determined, Ken knew his customers by names, and he considered them to be his friends. McAlister wasn’t just a businessman.

He engaged with people at a deeper level. And generations of his customers still tell stories of McAlister as a man of compassion and empathy, who helped with their personal challenges whenever he could. They also recall what he did for the area, helping create a cohesive community where people felt included and important.

Yukon resident and Class of 1974 Yukon High alum Pam Team Adamson and her sister spent a lot of time together at Conrad Marr when it was located at 334 Elm Street in the Town Plaza. With fondness, Adamson said, “Loved the old store. Conrad Marr had a small grill area inside the pharmacy. Hazel was the cook. They had a real soda fountain where the Coke syrup was mixed in with soda water. I would order a ‘Suicide Soda,’ which was every kind of soda mixed in one drink. We loved them. Yukon only had a few restaurants, so this grill was busy.

And they carried gifts and cards. Snyder’s IGA, TG&Y, C.R. Anthony, and other stores were also in Town Plaza. When I was in grade school, the businesses in Town Plaza had different community events. One was pajama night. We all gathered in the Plaza in our pj’s, and the stores gave away free stuff. Conrad Marr gave everyone a small chocolate or vanilla shake. It was a mad house. I’ll never forget it.”