Family cites love of Iola with Bowlus gift

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November 2, 2016 - 12:00 AM

All his life, Mack Colt kept Iola in his thoughts. Though he made his home and his livelihood elsewhere — primarily in the Kansas City area — the successful businessman would pay return visits to his hometown often.
“This town meant so much to my husband,” remembered Sara Colt, his partner of 54 years. “He was always so proud to be from Iola, Kansas.”
In January, after a long illness, Mack Vail Colt died. He was 76.

ON TUESDAY, however, all thoughts were on Mack Colt’s life. Around 1:45 p.m., Sara Colt, along with her eldest daughter Liz, delivered to the Bowlus Fine Arts Center a small bronze sculpture from the celebrated studio of artist Rosalind Cook. The memorial gift, which also honors Colt’s parents, will be on permanent display in the Bowlus’s lower lobby in the coming weeks.
According to Colt’s daughter, the specific nature of the piece, which depicts Jesus surrounded by small children — a babe on his lap, a girl at his knee and a small boy gazing lovingly up — “summarizes [my father’s] values of Christianity, family and community.”
“My husband was a very committed Christian,” said Sara, “and really did try to live his life based on Christian principles. … And it’s because of his values and our family’s values, I suppose, that this piece appealed to us — because of what it represents.”
In a description of the bronze, the sculptor Cook has explained that the “triangular composition” of the piece results in a tableau in which “every major line leads to the face of Christ, who is the focal point and apex of the sculpture.”

IN 1958, Mack brought Sara to Iola for the first time. They were young then, nearing the end of their freshman year at KU, not yet married. She met Mack’s parents, his grandparents. She met his friends, the ones he’d grown up with and the buddies he golfed with on weekends out at the country club. He showed Sara around town. Eventually, they graduated, married. Mack would go on to earn his law degree. Sara would teach for a time. The pair had three children. Across the years, Mack was a life insurance producer, the owner of banks, he was a successful restaurateur, an active entrepreneur, he was on the US Bank board, he was a frequent presenter at industry conventions, and was, throughout, a loyal friend to a number of charitable organizations.
“But he was always from Iola,” remembered Sara. “From that very first time he brought me to this town, I found the community so accepting, so warm, so kind. I also noticed that the people, on the whole, were really involved civically, and very dedicated to their children’s education. The city on the whole was, for a smaller town, really very culturally aware. … And so I thought what better way to honor that than to give this piece of sculpture to the Bowlus Center, where other people could enjoy it.
“I think it would please Mack that we recognized his roots, his parents, and the community that he loved.”
The plaque will read: “IN LOVING MEMORY OF MACK VAIL COLT AND HIS PARENTS JANE AND MACK COLT BY SARA COLT AND CHILDREN”

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