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Photo Courtesy of Kelcey Schroder Tim Nobles poses for a photograph at his Investment Planners office in downtown Sibley, Iowa.

Music is the key of life for Tim Nobles

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SIBLEY, Iowa -- The old cliché "Music makes the world go round" couldn't be truer in the case of Tim Nobles.

Nobles, who operates the Investment Planners office on Sibley's Ninth Street, traveled a sometimes difficult and complicated road to arrive at where he is today. Faith has also played a tremendous role in Nobles' evolution from a trouble-making teenager to the family man and businessman -- and contributor to his community in multiple ways -- that he is today.

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The path to happiness and a better life, Nobles recalls, was one that included several important events, but a couple stand out in particular.

Finding his way

Nobles spent his early years in Olathe, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City. He developed a love for music that ultimately led to what he calls the first key experience of his life, which took place during his sophomore year of high school.

"Music has shaped my life in pretty much every way," he explained over coffee at The Lantern Coffeehouse and Roastery, a Sibley business he and several others helped start in 2010. "I grew up in a good stable home, but we weren't really a church-going family; faith wasn't anything that was part of my daily life. As I look back now from a different perspective, a faith-based perspective, I can trace everything in my life to a couple of events.

"When I was a sophomore in high school, I was a very troubled and challenged youth," Nobles went on. "I had made an elite choir in my very large high school, and after one week I decided I had made a very large commitment and was going to quit. The teacher at the time pulled me aside in the hallway and said, 'You can't quit.' We went back and forth, and finally he said something no one ever said to me. He said, 'Tim, I need you.' As an impressionable 16-year-old person, that really made an impact. When I look at that moment in time, it really set in motion the rest of my life."

Things didn't necessarily change substantially right away for Nobles, though. He would drop out of high school in February 1989, earn his GED and elect to "find my way through hard work." That notion, however, though, resulted in dissatisfaction for many months -- until a phone call seemingly out of the blue made the next -- and probably biggest -- difference.

"I was pretty much at rock-bottom, and I had started looking around for a college and thinking, 'I've got to use my music,'" Nobles remembered. Then I got a phone call in the fall of '89; it was from my old music teacher, who was now at USF (University of Sioux Falls). He called me and said, 'Hey, I hear you're looking at going to college. If you decide you want to go, come look at this school.

"I kind of blew it off, but by January 1990 I was starting to feel the pinch. I felt like if I didn't do something, my life was going to go in the wrong direction, so I came during that month to visit USF. My old teacher came to meet with me and he said, 'Tim, we have a lot of history together -- a lot of it not very good -- but you can come up here and start over.

"Nobody knew who I was; nobody knew anything about me good or bad. The college let me in on probation, but most important was the thing Dave said to me. "You not only can start over in school, but you can evaluate your life and start over there as well, because Jesus Christ can give you a second chance.' That's what really set the tone for my adult life."

A new life

Nobles was attending college when, in 1992, he married wife Ginger and moved to her hometown of George, Iowa. The relocation represented a substantial cultural adjustment, as Nobles' high school had a larger enrollment than George's population.

Upon arriving there, the newlyweds farmed and also operated a downtown business.

"That's where I learned the joys and challenges of small business, because we owned the flower shop," Nobles said. "That's what put me through college. We owned that from '92 to '95, and then sold that. ... At the same time I was finishing up my degree in music education, the George music position opened."

Nobles went on to spend a year and a half as a music teacher in George (the first half-year as a student teacher) before taking a similar position in Sibley. He taught at that community's high school from 1996-1999, at which time he opted to make a life-changing decision.

"I was wanting to start a family, and in evaluating my work schedule and the amount of time I wanted to invest in the kids and the music program itself, I just knew it wasn't going to," he admitted. "I didn't want to spend more time with someone else's children than I did with my own.

"I had taken some classes in college in the financial field and had been doing some work on my own, just from my own accounts and also farming on wife's family farm. But then I had to go get my licenses ... and my financial adviser and I went into business together."

Nobles' business partner was, and remains in, Dubuque, Iowa, and Nobles initially worked out of his home and began to build a client base. After a year of that, he rented an office base before eventually buying his first building and establishing a full-time office.

"That would have been in probably 2003 or 2004," he said. "That's when I actually invested in the community for the first time."

By that point, Nobles was too busy to both farm and operated his business, so he and Ginger moved from the farm and built a home in Sibley in 2005.

"At that point, I started getting involved in community development, and I wanted to -- even if it was in small amounts -- find ways to give back to the community in time and money," Nobles stated.

Helping hand

Nobles ran for and won a seat on the city council in 2007 and recently began serving his second four-year term. In the meantime, he -- along with, as he's quick to point out, many others -- started getting involved with helping local businesses get off the ground.

"What I found was, with a little bit of capital, I could help some people get started. I had seen that people were giving toward charities ... but we hadn't been giving to try to stimulate other private business. I was fearing that we were going to end up with a lot of empty storefronts downtown, so I started to put the pieces of puzzles all together.

"I knew there was a person looking for another location for their business, and my building was a perfect fit for them. At the same time, I had visited with Kelcey Schroder (a photographer who grew up in Sibley) about starting a business, and I had visited with Adam and Beth (Grimm) about starting a business.

"I contacted a local banker about the business that was interested in changing location and offered them the building at my cost. I partnered with another local business owner and we gave assistance to help Kelcey, and then teamed with Daryl Bosma and a family member of Adam and Beth to purchase a building and help with equipment and renovations in starting The Lantern Coffeehouse and Roastery."

Nobles also needed a new space for his office at this time, so he bought on auction a building that was in disrepair with the intention of renovating it. The day roof work was being done on the structure, however, a local business owner -- Tom Wietzema -- contact Nobles about renting space in his office building instead.

"I decided to take advantage of that opportunity, and after finishing the roof on the older building, began searching for another business to go in there," Nobles said. "In the last month, another young Sibley-Ocheyedan graduate has begun to renovate that building, Jesse Dagel -- he's putting in a recording studio and will also be teaching guitar lessons out of that building.

"I think we're on the verge of really transforming the community out of that stereotypical, dying place into a fun, really active environment."

Nobles reiterated that any effort being made to transform Sibley is not his alone.

"You had plumbers who helped out and gave substantial incentives and assistance and renovating the building," explained Nobles, describing the launching of The Lantern as an example. "You had local contractors who contributed to the project and helped to get this business open.

"The whole goal of Daryl Bosma and I in the beginning -- when we created Sibley Pay it Forward -- was to have to a group to get people involved and invested in the community, so that we're not constantly waiting on somebody to do it for us. We're trying to lead by example. Sibley, Iowa, has been supportive of me from my days as a teacher to my days as a businessperson, so I think, financially, there's a lot of ways I can find to give back."

Even though Nobles' career at Investment Planners doesn't include music, he has kept it part of his life. He continues to lead the music program at Tabernacle Baptist Church in George and also directed the mass choir for Candlelight Processional, a fundraiser for ATLAS of Osceola County, back in December.

While it was music that made the most significant impact in Nobles' life, he now hopes to work with others to make similar impacts within his adopted community.

"The bottom line is when we work, whether it's on the farm or in business or for someone, we earn all this money and we pile it up and we miss the opportunity to make an impact in our life right now. By reinvesting in our community, we can make an impact in our community that will last long after I'm gone. It's about showing people how they can put their dollars to work and keep our young people, who have so much talent, right here."

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Ryan McGaughey
I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.
(507) 376-7320
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