Scott Heider said his father Charles, a late Carroll native, had a strong faith that motivated his many charitable endeavors. Scott Heider is continuing that family tradition. He is pictured here in his Omaha, Nebraska offices during a meeting with the Daily Times Herald.
Scott Heider said his father Charles, a late Carroll native, had a strong faith that motivated his many charitable endeavors. Scott Heider is continuing that family tradition. He is pictured here in his Omaha, Nebraska offices during a meeting with the Daily Times Herald.
Omaha, Nebraska

A Carroll upbringing, girded in hard work and the teachings of the Catholic Church — followed by World War II service and a Jesuit education at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska — instilled in Charles Heider a sense of community and duty to others that led him to build a legacy as one of the preeminent philanthropists in the history of the Cornhusker State, his son, Scott Heider, said this week.

Charles Heider. an investment banker with close ties to Warren Buffett, and the largest private benefactor in Creighton University’s history, strongly supported an improved Carroll Public Library in his hometown before his death.

In an interview this week with The Daily Times Herald at his offices in Omaha, Scott Heider, managing principal of Chartwell Capital, LLC, said a $100,000 pledge to the nonprofit Carroll Library Foundation reflects his late father’s wishes and the mission of the Heider Family Foundation.

Charles Heider, a son of Joseph and Agnes Heider of Carroll, was born May 28, 1926, at St. Anthony Regional Hospital, a medical center to which his family has made significant contributions.

Heider, who passed away in July 2015 at age 89, spent his childhood and teenage years in a home on Clark Street. His father worked with family members at the former Heider Manufacturing Co., a landmark Carroll County business.

Early in his career in Omaha, Charles Heider began working with Warren Buffett in what would become a decades-long professional relationship. Early in 1967 Heider brokered the sale of National Indemnity Co. to Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Buffett.

“I helped him get into the insurance business, which is his biggest business now,” Heider said in a 2007 interview with this newspaper.

The Omaha World-Herald quoted Buffett as crediting Heider for making Berkshire Hathaway a powerful company.

“In all likelihood, none of it ever would have happened without Charlie,” Buffett told the World-Herald.

The Heider Family Foundation is guided by Charles Heider’s wife, Mary; son Scott and his wife, Cindy; and son Mark Heider.

The following is a question-and-answer session with Scott Heider:

Question: What did Carroll mean to your father, and by extension, what does it mean to you? How did it help set the high standards for community involvement, for faith, in terms of your contributions to Creighton University and your family’s approach to life?

Answer: My father was a successful businessman and very hardworking, and from your interaction with him, you probably picked up on the fact that he was very humble. He was very, very interested in helping other people.

He went to Creighton University and met the Jesuits. understood the Jesuits. The Jesuits stand for many different things, education, social justice. The modern term would be “being men and women for others.” That’s what Jesuit education is all about.

The other thing is Carroll. My dad I would drive to Carroll every spring and fall to visit the farms and drive around. He would want to see downtown. He would want to see the old train station. He just wanted to stay connected to Carroll.

Carroll, to him, I think, was a place to him that not only was his roots, but I think it became part of who he was as much as the Jesuits who educated him. Actions speak louder than words. I think that’s what the City of Carroll represented to him, is hardworking, industrious people, but humble people. Truly my dad was actions speak louder than words.

He treated everybody the same. I didn’t matter who you were, what you did.

Question: In a very real sense, then, this donation is a reflection of his strong belief in the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church.

Answer: Absolutely. And I would tell you that my father, until his last days, was so proud of Carroll being a vibrant community.

Question: What did he like about it? When he he talked about Carroll what did he say?

Answer: I would tell you nothing made him prouder than being in Omaha at any given time in any given place and running into the CEO of Mutual of Omaha, Dan Neary, and they were Carroll guys. Or he’d run into one of the biggest property developers in Nebraska, George Venteicher, and they were Carroll guys. Or he’d run into the Ferlic brothers who were two amazing doctors, and they were Carroll guys.

And it was on and on and on. It was like a fraternity of all these guys that were born and raised in Carroll, and all were very successful in their respective fields. I can tell you that the common thread that ran through all of those folks, not only were they successful, they were very humble. And not afraid of hard work. He was very proud of Iowa.

Five days a week my father was out the door at 6:20 a.m., he attended Mass at 6:30 a.m., and he was at his office at 7 a.m. He did that for years.

Carroll is smaller than Omaha, but there are so many parallels between the two. Somebody could look at Omaha and say, “Well, it’s much smaller than Chicago.” But the parallels are you need to keep a community vibrant. You need to keep evolving. You really need to keep evolving.

But maybe the most important thing is you have to find a way to keep your younger generation and also attract people to your community. It can’t just be jobs and job opportunities because you need to keep them.

It’s quality of life. Carroll, although it’s smaller than Omaha, it’s the same thing.

Carroll has got a heckuva an entrepreneurial spirit to it. That’s what we always talked about in our family. It’s a wonderful fabric and dynamic you have over there.

My father would tell anybody that asked them that, “I can’t imagine a better place to be raised than Carroll, Iowa.”

I don’t know what’s in the water in Carroll. Just don’t change the source.

Question: You father built his career on making smart decisions about where to put money. Your dad was not one to move a cent in a foolish direction. There are some people in Carroll challenging the library project. For that smaller collection of critics, one of their charges is that libraries are going to become obsolete, that it’s just not a smart use of money. You have the charge of using the Heider Family Foundation money in smart ways, ones keeping with your dad’s vision. Why is it a smart contribution to give $100,000 to a library in Carroll, Iowa?

Answer: I’m a trustee at Creighton University so I can tell you what the discussions are not only at Creighton, but across the country.

The term “library,” it’s generational. You go to libraries on college campuses today, the books haven’t moved in 20 years, by and large.

But those buildings are packed because the students want someplace to go and meet and study and do whatever they need to do.

Libraries, even today, get used specifically by people who want internet access. They want computer access. They still want a place to meet and congregate for a variety of reasons.

We (Creighton) will have an upcoming campaign that will be announced within the next nine to 12 months. It will involve a brand-new library.

Entrepreneurial Carroll, Iowa, whether it realized it or not, is way out in front in what they want to do with the library and why they want to do it.