Spencer's 1971 Citizen of the Year, Schoelerman passes
Remembered as key community promoter, supporter
A community leader.
Spencer's biggest promoter.
All words describing Stan Schoelerman, by those who knew him best.
Schoelerman, considered one of Spencer's most prolific advocates and charitable givers, passed away Sunday morning at the age of 87.
The 1971 Spencer Citizen of the Year, the fifth citizen to earn the award, would have most likely won the award multiple times if it were allowed.
"Nobody has had more influence on my public life than my father and Stan Schoelerman," Toby Shine, owner of Shine Bros. in Spencer, said following the passing of his longtime friend and mentor.
"Stan and I have worked on boards, bringing airlines to Spencer, Spencer Community Theatre, Spencer Industries, the Corridor of Opportunity, there's nothing Stan wouldn't tackle that was good for the community. He was a mentor of mine in learning how to do those kinds of things.
Shine added, "When Stan came to see you at your office you knew it was either going to cost you a lot of time or a lot of money. But he was the kind of guy you welcomed with open arms."
And his praises kept coming Monday in the wake of his passing, as his friends acknowledged his major contributions to the community and surrounding area. One can hardly walk through Spencer without coming across something Schoelerman had a hand in developing.
"He was a great person, and a great citizen," Bob Rose, director of Spencer Main Street, said. "He was an all-round great guy. I think in my recollection of Stan's involvement, it wasn't just an occasional cause here or there. He was involved in pretty much anything that came up."
John Cotton, of Cotton Graves Farm Management and Realty, said, "He was a very effective fundraiser and worked very hard at it. ... He was especially good at raising large capital fund gifts and was usually right in the middle of it."
Dave Hessman worked side-by-side with Schoelerman on many of his efforts. The two, along with others, helped facilitate the creation of the Abben Cancer Center, generated funding to establish the Clay County Regional Events Center, and worked to ensure the building of Spencer's new middle school.
"There was no stopping Stan once he got started on something," Hessman said, suggesting he could have been the poster boy for Larry the Cable Guy's "Get R' Done" philosophy. "He just barreled ahead. He got it done. You would have to call him a legend in this community, you really would."
Hessman pointed to the Abben facility as one of Schoelerman's crowning achievements.
"One of the largest things would be the Abben Cancer Center. He not only worked on it, but he contributed a lot of funds to that project. It comes to mind because it impacts so many people. Everyone is touched by cancer in some way."
Hessman added, "Then he chaired the committee to raise the funds for the regional events center. There were nine of us and we met once a week for nine months."
Shine stressed, "Spencer Community Theatre wouldn't be where it is today without Stan Schoelerman's involvement."
Like Shine, Paul Brenner noted Schoelerman's influence on his public life.
"He was sort of a mentor to me in terms of showing me how a person can get involved in a lot of things. He insisted that other people join him. He wasn't shy about trying to get people to pitch in and help."
Brenner continued, "He always had an agenda and put in the time himself to make it happen. There are folks with lots of good ideas but who aren't willing to do much to make it happen. Stan was always pitching in to get things done."
While farming near his hometown of Everly, as a young man with wife, Muriel, Schoelerman was active in American National Cattlemen's Association, Farm Bureau, and was Clay County Soil Commissioner chairman for two years. He was named Outstanding Young Farmer in the state of Iowa in 1959.
In 1964, Stan left the farm, moved to Spencer and joined Petersen Sheep and Cattle Company. Two years later he bought the company with business partners Russ Heine and John Miller.
Schoelerman was also involved with multiple agencies and committees at both the local and state levels.
Shine, who worked with Schoelerman on the Spencer Industries Foundation, said his friend and mentor made major contributions in his role with the local entity, crediting him with helping bring both Eaton and Morton Buildings to the Spencer area.
In 1974, Governor Robert Ray appointed Schoelerman to the Iowa Transportation Commission, followed by another appointment to the National Motor Carriers Committee in 1980.
"He was a great promoter for the whole state of Iowa when he served with the DOT. I don't know that the Highway 71 project would have been done without Stan's involvement," Shine said, noting that the effort helped create greater traffic and commerce transport in and out of the Lakes Corridor region.
"Stan figured he ran the highways for years and years," Brenner said with a chuckle.
Schoelerman's participation in annual campaigns, public projects and community betterment efforts was immeasurable, and included an active presence as both a Kiwanian - for 44 years - and a dedicated Mason, belonging to several orders for more than 50 years.
"He was a cattleman first and foremost," Rose said. "He was a citizen with the best interest of the community at heart. He was involved in almost every fund drive I can remember, most recently with Parker (Clay County Heritage Center)," Rose said. "He wasn't just a fundraiser, he made the commitment personally. He didn't ask things of people he wasn't willing to do himself."
Rose continued, "He was probably the first one to make the commitment to whatever project or cause he was promoting.
"He never quit. He taught me the art of fundraising," Hessman added.
Stan was also one of these people who didn't need to be up front taking the bows," Shine said. "He just cared about getting the job done. Stan's idea of a good deed was not necessarily to be recognized for it but to get it done. He didn't take care who took credit.
"I can't tell you how many people Stan has helped take care of over the years who nobody will ever know about. He cared about this community and people."
Shine continued, "In my opinion, Stan is irreplaceable. But Stan would tell you he is (replaceable). He just wanted to make sure there were good people coming up behind him to get the job done. If you looked at the Spencer Citizens of the Year, Stan has worked with a great many of them."
Schoelerman spent his final full day with his family at the Lakes on Saturday before passing early Sunday morning, Hessman said.
"With all this work that Stan did with this community and the state, the one thing Stan never forgot, and was very, very proud of, was his family," Shine said. "This community is really going to miss him."
Funeral services for Stanley Schoelerman will be conducted at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Congregational Church in Spencer. Evening Shade Lodge No. 312 A.F. & A.M. will provide Masonic Service. Interment will take place at Riverside Cemetery. A Continuation in Celebration of Stan's Life will be held from 4-6 p.m. at the Spencer Community Theatre.