Carroll, Sears legacies live on in community
Spencer area residents lost two key members of its community Tuesday with the passing of former city councilman and business owner Rony Sears and longtime bakery owner Joe Carroll.
Both men left their mark on the community they admittedly loved.
"Joe is probably one of the first people you would meet when you moved to Spencer many years ago," Spencer Mainstreet Director Bob Rose said. "Joe was a guy that really enjoyed life and loved everybody. He was a very friendly guy and was always interested in what you had to say."
Carroll and his sister, Marge, took over operation of the family business from their father and uncle in 1951 and ran it for 40 years before selling it to Paul and Colleen Thompson in 1991. It has been operated as Carroll's Bakery since the brothers took ownership in 1928.
"My aunt worked for my dad and she would take us over there for treats sometimes. It was the greatest," Tom Nelson, third generation owner of Nelson Jewelry in downtown Spencer said. "The best thing about Joe was he always had a joke. And he always shared one."
"Is there a nicer person out there?" Nelson asked rhetorically. "He was just the best."
Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson, who grew up in Royal, said it was special when he was able to visit the bakery.
"You couldn't go into the bakery without seeing Joe and his sister there working side-by-side," Peterson said.
"Carroll's Bakery is an institution. It has the same name and the same reputation," Rose said.
He continued. "It's known throughout northwest Iowa. I grew up in Sibley and people over there wouldn't think of coming to Spencer without stopping. People from Des Moines would stop in to take some stuff home. I peddled his products down to Laurens when I was driving a bread truck. I took a tray of donuts and rolls to a restaurant in Laurens. I was a jobber for Carroll's Bakery. It was always fun to walk in the back door and have a conversation."
Rose said that after he sold the bakery, Carroll remained very active in different aspects of the community.
He was a long time member of the choir and other musical groups, including the Barber Shoppers. Carroll played trombone and was a member of the Spencer Community Band for over 70 years, as well as, president of the Iowa Retail Bakers Association, founding member of the Spencer Community Theatre, and provided many years of service to Kiwanis, SCORE, Rotary, Hospice, VOCA as well as Spencer High School and Johnson Elementary School.
"He's someone we're going to miss very much," Rose said.
Sears owned and operated Lundt & Sears Plumbing and Heating for 43 years, before retiring in 2009.
"Ron Sears was another example of businesses that pass from one owner to another. Ron was a local person who grew up in the area and started with Ed Lundt, who had a plumbing business. It soon became Lundt and Sears, and when Ed retired, Ron kept up the good business and service."
Like Carroll, Sears also made a lasting mark on the community outside of his business operation. In 1984, Sears received Service of Mankind Award in 1984.
He is credited with playing an active role in supporting the Spencer community through service on the Sunshine Board from 1979-85, including two years as president. He rejoined the board again from 2000-06, holding each office on the board. Additionally, Sears served on the Spencer City Council from 1988-95, was a member and president of the University Of Okoboji Corvette Club, founded the Old Iron Company, Pony Express, Big Brother and Big Sister and the Clay County Fair Old Fashioned Days.
"He knew the value of being involved in community. He enjoyed having a good time and was a great, fun guy to be around," Rose said.
Donna Fisher, former Spencer City Clerk, worked alongside Sears during his tenure as a councilman.
"Ron was fun to work with. He really took on the public works area," she said. "When he was on the council, we started looking at a recycling plan for the city. He was really involved in that. He brought a real business perspective to the council."
Fisher remembered him as being very direct.
"He would say what was on his mind and tell you what he was thinking," Fisher said.
"Ron was a pillar in the community and he had a passion for identifying a need and helping where he could," Peterson said.
The mayor added, "He did not want to be in the limelight but he was always working hard behind the scenes to get things done."
Rose said, "He's another example of what has made this community great. His business is still here. It goes by another name now, but the tradition goes on."
He continued. "They were both great business people. They're a great example of what has happened in this community with traditional businesses going to the next generation."
Funeral services for Mr. Joe Carroll, 88, of Spencer, will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Spencer. Rev. William Schreiber will officiate the service.
Visitation will be conducted from 4-7 p.m. Sunday, with the family present at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Spencer. A vigil service will be conducted at 3 p.m. Sunday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Spencer.
Burial will be at Riverside Cemetery in Spencer. Military services will be conducted by Glen Pedersen Post 1 - American Legion of Spencer.
Funeral services for Mr. Rony Craig Sears, 65, of Milford, formerly of Spencer, will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Hope Reformed Church in Spencer. Rev. Russell Muilenburg will officiate the service.
Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday with the family present from 3-6 p.m. at the Warner Funeral Home of Spencer.
Interment will take place at Riverside Cemetery in Spencer.