WARSAW — Willis Alt has a long list of accomplishments and, among them, perhaps his most notable was the role he played in the founding of the K21 Foundation.
Alt is one of 22 Kosciusko County residents chosen to carry the torch in the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, which will travel through the local area the end of Sept. 29.
Alt was the foundation’s first executive director, serving from from 1999-2007.
“That was the highlight of my career,” Alt said. “It was the most fun job, the most challenging job, I’ve had.”
With $63 million to invest, he said, Alt was the choice for the project. With a volunteer board of 16, plus a background in banking, Alt set about to establish the foundation, which makes approximately $3 million in grants to local organizations each year.
“It continues to be a vital source of health and wellness funds for Kosciusko County,” Alt said.
Alt is also a strong advocate for giving blood and has donated more than 32 gallons to the American Red Cross Blood Services and was on the Regional Blood Services board of directors from 1998 through 2001.
“I’ve heard I was the number-one donor in Kosciusko County, but I don’t know that for a fact,” he said.
In the midst of all this, Alt is a past director and president of the Greater Warsaw Chamber of Commerce; past director, leadership giving chairman and allocations committee member for Kosciusko County United Way; has served on the Junior Achievement board of directors; and has been a Kosciusko County Redevelopment Commission member for four years.
He is a past 4-H leader; has been a member of First United Methodist Church since 1967, serving as a choir member, lay leader and member of the finance and staff parish committees; and has been a member of the Warsaw Kiwanis Club since 1967, serving as club director and president from 1975-1981 and past division lieutenant governor from 2004-2005.
Alt is a Purdue graduate with an MBA from Indiana University. He retired in 1999 from First National Bank, Warsaw, as president before taking leadership of the K21 Foundation. He was also an assistant county agent for the Purdue Extension from 1967-1970 and directed the Kosciusko County 4-H program.
Alt also enjoys spending time with family and is described in his nomination letter as, “a dedicated man and loving husband, father and grandfather.”
Alt does not yet know which part of the local torch relay route he will be on, but he hopes to carry the torch aboard a 1950 Oliver 88 tractor that he drove when he was a kid, growing up on a farm. He later restored the tractor. The knew he had been nominated as a torchbearer, he did not know he had been selected until the letter arrived in June from Governor Mike Pence’s office.
“I was pleased, I was excited, I was honored,” he said.