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Former Glenwood City Councilman, State School Administrator Ron Bales Dies At Age 86

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By Joe Foreman, Editor

Family and friends gathered Monday morning to share humorous stories and celebrate the life of Ron Bales, a former Glenwood City Council member and administrator at the Glenwood State Hospital-School. He died May 31 at the age of 86.

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Bales was on the Glenwood City Council for 34 years, serving as council president and mayor pro-tem for 15 of those years. The council chamber at City Hall now bears his name.

“Ron was very organized and straight forward – he got things done,” former Glenwood Mayor Lyle Mayberry told The Opinion-Tribune. “He was an excellent city councilman and I enjoyed serving with him.”

Bales left the city council in 2008. At the time, he was the longest-serving city council member in the entire state of Iowa, a milestone he downplayed in an interview just a few days before stepping down.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been that many years,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve really enjoyed doing.”

During the interview, Bales reflected on the many projects he was part of during his time on the council, including the establishment of a housing authority in Glenwood, construction of a waste-water treatment plant, development of the city’s youth sports and recreation complex and the turn-of-the century renovation of Town Square.

As a council member, Bales never hesitated to ask questions or state his opinion on a matter. He earned the respect of his colleagues and constituents for his straight-forwardness and common-sense approach to handling city business. He was highly-visible in the community, which often meant having conversations with citizens about city matters on the golf course or at the coffee shop.

“There’s hardly a day that goes by that somebody isn’t asking a question or asking directions on how to do something about this or that,” he said.

Bales, who had a bachelor’s degree in education administration and a master’s degree in secondary administration, served as a teacher, coach and principal in Tabor before being hired as the assistant superintendent of the Glenwood State Hospital School in 1965, a position he held for 26 years before retiring. He was remembered Monday as an advocate for GSH-S clients and employees. He was on staff at the facility as it transitioned from institutional to residential cottage-style living arrangements for clients.

Many of the stories shared at Bales’ memorial service centered on his love and devotion of family, faith, his enjoyment with the game of golf and playing cards with friends.

Bales was a fixture at the Glenwood Golf Course and will continue to be remembered at the course with an annual summer tournament held in his honor - the Ron Bales Invitational.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, Bales served his country during the Korean War. He was involved in several civic and community organizations over the years, including the Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Tabor Volunteer Fire Department, Rotary and Optimist. He was a past president of the Glenwood Golf Course Board of Directors and a member of Common Ground Ministry in Glenwood.

Bales was preceded in death by his parents, Clifford and Florabelle Bales; wife, Betty (Tobin) Bales; and sister, JoAnn Kenagy Bales Moore. Survivors include his son, Tony (Wendy) Bales; daughter Roni (Joe) Score; seven grandchildren, Amber (Matt) Dyer; Tyler McCreary; Kenzie (Daniel) Meggison; Sarah Score; Noa Bales; Isaac Bales; Eli Bales and Silas Bales; three great-grandchildren, Brock Dyer, Marla Dyer and Miller Meggison; brother, Roger Bales; and sister-in-law, Kathy (Chuck) Douglass.