Burke family, McDills are parade marshals
Published: Thursday, July 25th, 2013
This year’s Gold Discovery Days’ parade marshals demonstrate the right balance of love, dedication and family. Tom and Ilona McDill and the family of the late Lynette Burke were named the parade marshals for the annual town celebration.
Tom McDill, 91, has been a resident of Custer for 45 years while his wife, Ilona, has lived in Custer for 50 years. Because of their interest in horses, they were friends for around 45 years. Fifteen years ago, they married.
“We’ve both done work for the pageant and parade,” Ilona said. “We had floats in the parade and have helped with costumes, provided horses and helped the 4-H kids.”
Tom would often supply horses and other items for the parade and events. With the exception of the 2012 Gold Discovery Days, Tom has attended every parade since he’s been in Custer.
Ilona’s children were often involved in the parade and the Pageant of Paha Sapa. Once they were grown, Ilona’s kids would bring back their own children to participate in the pageant and festivities.
Both Tom and Ilona were happy about being named parade marshals for this year’s event.
“All the things that Tom’s done for the community and being a member of that community, he really deserves it.” Ilona said. “It’s a very nice honor.”
The two currently raise horses, both Arabian and other breeds.
The late Lynette Burke and her family will also serve as parade marshals for this year’s parade. Burke, who was raised on a ranch northwest of Custer, was heavily involved in Gold Discovery Days for many years.
“Mom was the parade coordinator for several years when I was a kid and she was involved in several pageants when they had it,” said Justin Burke, Lynette’s son. “My brother and I were in the pageant and drove golf carts in the parade.”
Burke worked in the Custer School District for over 20 years and was involved in many community organizations. For these reasons and more, Burke was chosen as parade marshal and informed of the honor before she passed away in April after a long battle with breast cancer.
“When her cancer took a turn for the worst, Tammy (Wicks) and Tina (Grable) wanted to do something to show their appreciation for my mom’s help and hard work over the years,” Justin said. “I don’t think the parade would have been what it is today without all that hard work.”
While the Burke family is happy their matriarch was given such a great honor, it means even more that she was able to hear the news for herself.
“She made a joke shortly after she was told. She said, ‘In order to be a parade marshal, I would have to be dead,’” Justin joked. “She was really happy she had the honor to be a parade marshal. She put in a lot of time and effort, so the recognition is cool. Very well deserved.”
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