By Selynn Barbour — Contributing Writer | Photos Provided by www.FunLake.com and Joe Roeger
His smile lights up a room.
His idea with teamwork lights up the Lake. The newly built, illuminated “Lake of the Ozarks” sign is just one of the many results of Joe Roeger’s positive personality and professional contributions here at the Lake.
“The Hollywood Sign idea originated as an extension of the ‘Welcome Garden’ sign the Chamber developed across from Denny’s,” Joe begins. “With the new Highway 54 road system, it was obvious that the traffic counts and viewing of the Welcome Garden intersection would diminish. I inquired of MoDOT if a suitable, alternative, high-profile site would be created by the new road system. In working with Mo- DOT, the current site was identified at the East Highway 54 entrance before branching off to the Highway 242 and Osage Beach Express- way. I pitched the idea to my fellow Lake Area Chamber board members, and several volunteered to help on the committee including John Caran, Alan Sullivan, Jerry Hawken, Steve Naught and John Custer.”
“What a thrill it was to watch the lights finally turn on and the colors splash across the words ‘Lake of the Ozarks,’ ” cheers Alan Sullivan, Ameren Missouri engineer and Lake Area Chamber of Commerce board member. “The completion of the sign project was a team effort, but it took a real leader like Joe to keep everyone focused and mo- tivated. Keeping his priorities in their proper order, Joe began every meeting — right up to the dedication ceremony — with prayer.”
Joe’s priorities and dedication made the welcome sign possible. Each aluminum letter stands eight feet tall upon a four-foot wall. The total greeting measures 87 feet long. Its wording is illuminated with 18 four foot LED lights. These lights can be programmed to any color or color combination; for example, red changing to white to blue for upcoming Memorial Day and Fourth of July, or red and green for Christmas.
The sign also was made possible by more than 75 generous contributors who gave some $50,000 in cash and $30,000 in in-kind services and materials. Garrett Lynch, Eagle Scout candidate, took on the tasks of fundraising, and installing and maintaining the American flag. The maintenance needs of the sign will be ongoing and contributions are appreciated.
“For generations to come, I can see children in the backseats of cars, upon spying the sign, excitedly declaring ‘We’re at the Lake!’ ” Joe says, smiling.
“Joe is passionate about our community and has a desire to see it prosper,” shares Wendy White, Lake Area Chamber of Commerce director. “He felt that the sign would be an iconic attraction for tourists and residents alike. He handled this project from start to finish, putting a strong committee together and overseeing every aspect of the project.”
Joe’s desire to build the new welcome sign is just one of the many Lake activities he’s been a part of. He has engaged his energies in the chamber for 18 years, serving in offices from secretary to treasurer to president and committee chairmanships. He also has served on the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge Corporation on the board of directors and as vice president, and is its current treasurer. He sits on the Lake Regional Fund Committee as a board director and is past president. Missouri’s largest property owners association, Four Seasons Lakesites, utilized his professionalism as a board director and treasurer for several years. Joe aides the Transportation Advisory Committee of the Lake of the Ozarks Council of Local Governments. He combines community service with being a sports enthusiast while serving on HK’s Hospital Benefit Golf Tournament committee.
His professional talents lie in being a certified public accountant. The St. Louis native attained his BS in business administration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1974, and his MBA in accounting and finance at MU-Columbia in 1976. While in St. Louis, he worked as a CPA with KPMG Peat Marwick, a large international CPA firm, for seven years.
“Moving to the Lake in 1983 was quite an adventure for Terri and me,” Joe remembers. “There was not much going on during the winters here in the early ’80s. But building our first home at the Lake really kept us busy that first year. Two children and another on the way at the time also kept us busy.”
When they came to the Lake, Joe worked as controller, then chief financial officer for Four Seasons, a client of KPMG Peat Marwick. His responsibilities there included finance, insurance and administration from 1983-1996. He was part of the development team for the Four Seasons Racquet Club, Seasons Ridge Golf Course and Treetop Village. Joe has owned and operated First Title Insurance Agency since its founding in 1992.
Joe and Terri have four children: Jill, Laura, Sara and Danny. Jill lives in Champaign, Illinois; the other three live in the Lake area. Joe and Terri enjoy spending time with their kids and their five darling grandchildren.
Another favorite pastime of Joe’s is turkey hunting deep in the woods. Golfing is another enjoyable activity, where he combined his favorite sport with work when he was a part of building the Seasons Ridge golf course. “Being a golfer, it was a lot of fun pulling that project together and watching the course being hewn out of the Ozark hills,” he says, smiling.
Joe used his professionalism, personality and Lake know–how and know-who to spearhead the new Lake of the Ozarks sign being “hewn” into another Ozark hill.
On dedication day, last October 4, former State Representative Rodney Schad remarked of Joe: “In life there are three kinds of people. Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. Those who wonder what happened. Joe Roeger is definitely a ‘make it happen’ man.”
Joe summarizes with, “Whether the Hospital, Community Bridge, Lake Area Chamber or Four Seasons POA board, I like getting things done. I firmly believe that if one has been blessed in the community in which one lives, he has a duty to serve that community if he has the opportunity to do so. I consider it a privilege to contribute to the quality of life at the Lake.”