Roger Carlson honored with tree planting ceremony at Red Oak Jr./Sr. High School

Members of the Red Oak community, Roger Carlson’s family, and Red Oak Community School District staff gathered on May 10 to pay special tribute to Roger Carlson.
A tree planting ceremony was held at the school to commemorate Carlson, a long time member of the Red Oak School Board who was serving on the board when he passed away Jan. 16.
Superintendent Ron Lorenz spoke during the ceremony, expressing his appreciation to the McQuown family for the purchase of the tree and for allowing it to be planted on the campus in memory of Carlson.
“It’s no accident they selected a Red Oak tree. This species epitomizes Roger in so many ways. Red Oaks are particularly sturdy, with deep roots, just like Roger; they stand tall and true in the face of strong storms and winds, just like Roger; and they’re beautiful and unassuming but have stark ways, just like Roger. Roger would be pleased to know that this tree will grow and provide comfort and shade to our students and staff for years to come,” Lorenz said.
The tree was planted near the Red Oak School Board room, a fact that Lorenz said he appreciated.
“I take comfort in knowing it will reside so near the board room where he made such a profound impact on our school district. No one cared more about our community and school than Roger Carlson. This tree will serve as a daily reminder of his strength, his commitment, his integrity, and his service,” Lorenz stated.
Jud Isebrands, brother of Maggie McQuown, helped organize the event,. Isenbrands, a Red Oak native, grew up near the Red Oak Airport and attended high school in downtown Red Oak.
“Things have gone for the better here these days. I knew Roger all my life. When I read his obituary, I was amazed at how much he contributed to the community, and I wanted to pay back a little bit. I think his contribution to the school was particularly exemplary. I felt planting this tree was something I could do in his honor to help out,” commented Isenbrands.
Maggie McQuown also spoke during the ceremony, saying she felt Roger would be pleased that her notes were on Farm Credit Services stationary.  She shared some of her memories of Carlson.
“We have shared deep roots in Garfield Township, Red Oak, and Montgomery County. Roger and I rode the school bus together when he was in kindergarten and I was in first grade. We go back a long way,” advised McQuown. “His wife Kathy and I also share a lot of roots. We were in Rainbow Grove together in band during high school. Roger’s commitment to Red Oak, the school, the community, his family, and his farm business was unparalleled. In addition to what Ron said, Red Oak trees stand for justice, and honesty, and have wide branches that provide canopies and shelters for those close by. Roger’s legacy embodies all of those characteristics. We’re so glad to have this stand outside Red Oak Schools in his memory.”
Kathy Carlson and the Carlson family were also present at the event. Kathy said she was touched by the tree planting and the support from the community.
“This means a lot to us. The Red Oak community has supported us so well. I feel very loved by some through this. Although I wish this wouldn’t have happened, I’m thankful for the support of everyone,” Kathy said.
Caryn Pedersen addressed the crowd, and said part of Roger’s core was his faith in the Lord.
“When someone would finish something in the Bible, they would find stones and pile them up. God always told them they should put them there to remember what God had done for them and what had been accomplished there. That’s the purpose of this tree,” explained Pedersen. “We can look and say this is what God accomplished through Roger, and continues to accomplish, I would say. That’s what we see when we look at the tree. We see the faith, and we can think about what the tree will look like when it’s big and grown, and how many people it will help with its shade. This is our stack of stones, and it will be here for a long time.”
A plaque in Carlson’s honor will be placed at a later date. Appreciation was also expressed to Scott Bruce and his crew for assisting in the planting of the tree and the site preparations.

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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