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Karl remembered for service to community, church

WORTHINGTON — Bonnie Karl will be remembered as a prominent member in the community, very active in her church and devoted to her family and business.

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Karl, who died Sunday at 83, was born in 1930 in Slayton to Rudolph and Diana (Pearson) Johnson. She was the oldest of five children, grew up on the family farm northwest of Slayton and graduated from Slayton High School.

She married Raymond Karl of Slayton on Feb. 24, 1948. From there, she and her husband ran the Pontiac dealership together in Slayton from 1956 to 1962 before moving to Worthington in January 1962.

Together, they opened a larger dealership — the Pontiac-Olds-Cadillac Dealership, known as Oxford Street Motors. The Karls ran the dealership, where she handled the bookkeeping aspect of the business, until 1972.

In 1973, they — along with son Jim — opened an auto parts store, General Trading Co. Another son, Chuck, joined them a year later.

After her husband’s death in 1979, Karl and her sons continued the business, later known as Karl’s CARQUEST Auto Parts, and expanded it to stores in Worthington, Albert Lea and Jackson. She retired from the business, now operated by her sons, in 2011.

Karl had been in the auto parts business for 40 years. Overall, she had been in business in Worthington for 50 years.

Over the years, Karl has been honored for her work in the auto industry.

In 1981, she received the National Jobber of the Month Award — she was the first female national CARQUEST Jobber of the Month in a male-dominated business. She also received the Oldsmobile Athena Award for leadership and community service by a professional woman.

Karl was an active member in the Worthington community and served on many committees and boards. She was a charter member of the Worthington Foundation, serving as chairman for its first 12 years until resigning in 2003.

“She did a remarkable job in the Worthington Foundation,” said Robert J. Demuth, former Worthington mayor. “She was always dedicated, and made the community aware of what was going on in the foundation.”

Karl served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and was Chamber President in 1989. She also served two terms on the City of Worthington Planning Commission (1994-2000) and on the Downtown Redevelopment Committee (1990-1992).

“When I first began my career with the Chamber of Commerce, Bonnie was a great mentor and friend to me,” said Darlene Macklin, the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce’s executive director. “She was always willing to assist where needed, enjoyed being involved in the community and was a fabulous cook.”

Karl was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Worthington, where she was a wedding coordinator for more than 25 years and taught Sunday school for 18 years. She was also involved in many ministries and committees within the church.

“I think Bonnie has left a legacy of service not only to the church, but to the community,” said the Rev. Daren Flinck of First United Methodist Church. “She was always so involved and loved to help others.”

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Dingmann Funeral Home, Worthington. Visitation will continue from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by the 11 a.m. service, at First United Methodist Church. Burial will in Garden of Memories Cemetery, Worthington.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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