Family, friends remember Carlson

The legacy of Roger Carlson is still being remembered in the Red Oak community.
Carlson passed away suddenly on Jan. 16 at the age of 70, leaving a void in places all across the community. In addition to serving multiple times on the Red Oak School Board, Carlson was a past and present member of organizations such as Red Oak Presbyterian Church member and ordained Elder; City of Red Oak Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee; Bank Iowa Shenandoah/Red Oak Advisory Board member; Red Oak Community School District Steering Committee for bond issue 2017; Red Oak Child Development Center, initial Policy/Procedure Chairman; Acorn I and Acorn II Development Board member; Salem Cemetery Board; Red Oak Elks Lodge member and National Foundation Contributor; Red Oak Chamber of Commerce member; Iowa Corn Growers Association; and an Iowa Soybean Association member.
Roger’s daughter, Kelly Osheim, reflected on growing up with her dad, saying there was so much she remembered she could write a novel.
“My dad was wise, fair, and kind of a goofball with us as kids. He was serious when he needed to be serious, but fun and silly when it was appropriate. He had these sayings like “smiles make the world go ‘round” and “if you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late.” He lived those things. He believed in the power for joy and spreading it around,” advised Osheim. “Make no mistake, he was firm in his morals, values and boundaries, but he had a smile for everyone. He used to tell us that he was the richest man in the world because he had his family, or that he’d never worked a day in his life because he loved what he did.  I remember when I was in my school years, all my friends adored him, and I thought they were crazy. It took me going out on my own to truly appreciate what a special person he was.”
Osheim said her dad instilled many things in her growing up that she has subsequently instilled in her own life.
“My dad had unmatchable work ethic, but regardless of how much effort he put into something, he always expressed that he was a blessed man. Blessed to do something that he loved, blessed that he had done well with it, blessed for his family, blessed that a couple of his kids had wanted to come back and work with him. I think that really speaks to his overall positive attitude, and something that I thankfully picked up from him.  Count your blessings with gratitude, focus on them, and contribute them back to your community,” stated Osheim.
Among the things Osheim said she’ll remember most about her dad was his contagious smile and his reliability.
“He was a great grandpa, and would regularly show up unannounced on a summer evening or weekend to take the kids on a Ranger ride, and my kids would always return with a cup of ice cream in hand and him with a sly grin. I knew I could depend on him for absolutely anything, from well thought out advice to a night of watching my kids.  My husband is often away for weeks to months with work, and I knew if anything came up my dad would be there. He was consistently dependable,” Osheim said.
Osheim added her dad’s smile and his reliability are also among the things she’ll miss the most about him.
“I miss everything. I miss walking into the office every morning, and exchanging a “Good morning.” I miss his undecipherable “voice to text” text messages that lacked punctuation or sense, and always required a phone call to get on the same page. I miss looking out my windows and seeing him drive by with a “honk-honk” and a wave,” commented Osheim.
Osheim shared a recent memory of her dad that had taken place just this past Thanksgiving.
“Traditionally, Thanksgiving is “my husband’s holiday,” and we celebrate at our house. He has a very large family, and we always make sure to include any of my family that is able to be there. This past Thanksgiving we hosted almost everyone on my husband’s side. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and their families. We set up for our largest annual Thanksgiving picture to date, roughly 45 people, and had my family that attended take the photo,” Osheim explained. “Before anyone could disperse, my dad stepped out and said, ‘Wait. Everyone just stay where you are.”  He says to my husband’s grandparents, ‘Jan, Joyce.  Come stand with me.’  We wait patiently for them to join him. He puts an arm around each of them and with his big, bright smile he says, “Turn around. This is so neat. Look at this family. You created all this. You should be so proud.’  My dad had a very distinct way of making people feel important; like their lives have left a mark on this world. He truly believed that family is our legacy, and he made sure that moment was not wasted to just an annual photograph.”
Osheim also said that her father reminded her of a mountain.
“Aside from being a tall, large man, he was a presence. He could be an unmovable obstacle that wouldn’t budge, sometimes you’d have to find your way around him, sometimes he was a fortress of protection. Regardless, you always knew where he stood, which created a solid foundation for his family. He was so many wonderful things. Yet, he was stubborn and impatient, but he somehow figured out how to make those things work for him. I think everyone can agree that he very simply got things done. He got things done for his family, his friends, his community, and he did it with a smile. We are all more than a little better off because of him.  I am so proud to be his daughter,” stated Osheim.
Red Oak Superintendent Ron Lorenz met Carlson when he was hired for his position with the school district. Lorenz said Carlson took it upon himself to make Lorenz feel welcome in the community.
“One of the first things he did was take me on a driving tour of the school district. As he pointed out various boundaries and explained the rich history of community and the surrounding area, I got my first sense of how much he loved Red Oak and Southwest Iowa. Roger’s hometown pride never faltered. He always wanted what was best for Red Oak. He gave so much of himself because Roger cherished this community,” said Lorenz. “When Roger had finished acclimating me to my new surroundings, he set out to introduce me to as many people as he possibly could. This was no small feat because Roger seemed to know everybody.”
Lorenz said the more he got to know Roger, the more he admired him.
“I always thought of him as a “Renaissance Man” because he seemed to know at least a little bit about everything. He used to joke about graduating from the “school of hard knocks,” but I know there was more to it than that. Roger read a great deal and thought deeply. He had a knack for numbers that was astounding. He could discuss interest rates, climate change, and public policy simultaneously. He also seemed to know the genealogy of everyone who was ever born in Montgomery County,” commented Lorenz.
Lorenz also said he was grateful for the time he got to share with Carlson and being his friend.
“He was so much more than a boss or board member to me. He was a mentor and a confidant. He was a benefactor and an advocate. He was a role model and a friend. I admired Roger for many reasons. He was both wise and affable. He was pragmatic and visionary. He was generous and responsible. He was kind and tough. Although I knew Roger a relatively short time, he had a profound effect on me. He was an extraordinary man, and I am going to miss him terribly,” Lorenz stated.
Randy and Bonnie Orme said they initially met Roger through attending the Red Oak Presbyterian Church, and later worked with Roger in economic development in Red Oak.
“I was involved in several community projects in the early 2000s that stretched into the 2010s. The last 10 years I worked a lot with Roger. Acorn Development is one of the Red Oak groups Roger was a board member on, and I was on the board with him. Housing was one of our projects that we focused on, and we also picked up the Red Oak daycare project. We worked pretty closely on that project,” Randy said.
Randy also highlighted the time he spent working with Roger to benefit the Red Oak Community School District.
“He was very active in the school and on the school board. They were high on Roger’s list. I worked with him on two committees there that were related to the school. Roger made a person feel welcome. He was excellent at that,” commented Randy.
Among the things Randy said he would remember about Roger was the fact he was dedicated to Red Oak, and was always willing to lend a helping hand.
“If you needed help getting a project going, he always showed up at the meetings, and he always did what he said he was going to. If you needed help making contacts, making phone calls, he’d get it done. He was a very reliable man,” said Randy. “He was always one person you could count on. He always would answer his phone if you had a question or comment, he would support you on a project or get an answer for you. Those people are few and far between. I’m probably going to miss that about Roger, I could always count on him.”
Bonnie said that very few of the farmers and rural businessmen who didn’t have an actual store front in town were heavily involved in economic development in Red Oak. Bonnie said Roger broke that mold.
“He was unique in his commitment and interest in that aspect of the community. I think everybody really appreciated his opinion and his support of those projects from the agricultural point of view,” stated Bonnie.
Bonnie said one of the things she’d remember about Roger was his ability to get to know everybody.
“He always made it a point to say hello to everybody and shake their hand and give them a big smile. I know he was always supportive of the kids in the church. He’d host different events at his home, If the kids needed to make money for camps or different events, he’d think of projects he needed help with around the farm and have the kids come out and do some work and earn some money,” explained Bonnie.
Bonnie said she would miss Roger being there to call on for help or get an opinion from.
“I’ll miss him being there to support and encourage his fellow church members and the pastor. He was that type of person,” advised Bonnie.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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