Roy Eric “Rick” Carlson

Monday, May 31, 2021 4:31 pm

Roy Eric (“Rick”) Carlson, age 86, of Decorah, Iowa and Marco Island, Fla., passed away on March 13, 2021.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 19, 2021 in the main hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther College campus, with Pastor Dan Thurmer officiating. Burial will be in the Lutheran Cemetery in Decorah. Visitation to greet the family will begin at 10 a.m., one hour before the service, at the Center for Faith and Life.

Rick was born on Jan. 2, 1935 in Decorah, IA to Helen (Bauder) and Roy Carlson.  After graduating high school in 1953, he attended the University of Iowa for two years. He joined the Army in 1956 and served in Germany from 1957-1958. Returning to Decorah, he attended Luther College, where he met his future wife, Cynthia Aal. Rick and Cynthia were married in 1962, and they had three daughters, Erika, Angela and Sarah.

After graduating from Luther in 1961, Rick worked for the Fred Carlson Company, a concrete and asphalt paving company started by his grandfather in 1900, from 1951 until his retirement in 1997 as laborer, foreman, superintendent, vice president, president and chairman. During his years of supervising and managing company operations, the Fred Carlson Company became an innovator in the concrete paving industry and expanded its business. In 1964, the company was the first in the U.S. to do slipforming concrete paving when it used the technique to construct Iowa’s interstate highway in Poweshiek and Iowa counties.Rick was a member of the board of directors of the Iowa Concrete Paving Association from 1971-77, serving as president in 1977. He was president of Associated General Contractors in 1981 and was the contractor representative on the Iowa College Foundation. He also served as a member of the board of directors of Church Mutual Insurance Company in Merrill, Wis., Community First Bank and Contractors Steel Corporation and was a member of both the Elks Club and VFW for over 50 years. Rick served two terms on the Luther College Board of Regents from 1986-1999.

He and Cynthia served with campaign leadership for the Luther College capital campaigns Fund for Luther II and Fund for Luther III.

In 2001, Rick Carlson was honored by Luther with the Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the college, given in recognition of success and achievements in professional field, contributions to community, and loyalty and support for Luther. In 2011, Rick and Cynthia, along with Dave and Brenda Carlson, received the Spirit of Luther Award, honored for their long history of leadership, commitment and support of Luther College and the entire Decorah community.Family, faith, humility and humor were foundations of Rick’s life.  He especially loved spending time with his six grandchildren – playing card games, swimming in the pool, teaching them to golf and taking family vacations.  Rick was strong in his faith, as a lifetime member of First Lutheran Church in Decorah and Emmanuel Lutheran in Naples, FL. 

He was selfless, humble, a great listener, never took himself too seriously and had a healthy sense of humor. Rick was also passionate about the game of golf. He was a long-time member of both Oneota Golf Club in Decorah and the Island Club in Marco Island. He was the Island Club Men’s Champion in 2003, shot his age (72) in 2007, played golf with Gene Sarazen at the Island Club in 1970 and had holes in one at both the Island Club and Oneota Golf Club.

Rick is survived by wife of 58 years, Cynthia; daughters Erika (Charlie); Angela (Jeff); Sarah (PJ); grandchildren Chad, Kyle, Thomas, Rachel, Lauren and Logan; brother David (Brenda); brother-in-law Irv (Beverly); and many nieces and nephews.  Rick is preceded in death by his parents; sister Astrid; brother-in-law Iver Aal; and sister-in-law and brother-in-law Carolyn and John Speed.

The family requests that donations be made in Rick’s honor to First Lutheran Church, 604 West Broadway, Decorah, IA 52101; Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, IA 52101; Carlson Park (c/o Decorah Parks and Recreation), 400 Claiborne Drive, Decorah, IA 52101; or any charity of your choice.Fjelstul Funeral Home in Decorah is serving the family.Online condolences may be made at

Submit A Comment

Fill out the form to submit a comment. All comments require approval by our staff before it is displayed on the website.

Notify of
0 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments