Lynn Brinker
Lynn Brinker
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lynn John Brinker, a Mount Carmel-area native and the former CEO of American Home Shield who moved a call center from California to Carroll in the 1980s, died Jan. 23 in Santa Rosa, Calif., from complications associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Brinker was 81.

A Carroll County farm boy, Brinker, born Nov. 3, 1931 in Carroll to Clarence and Elizabeth (Grossman) Brinker, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., before going to an accomplished career in business and accounting in Nebraska and then California, where he moved his family in 1963.

Dave Quandt of Carroll, a longtime Brinker friend and the vice president of field services for American Home Shield, said the home-warranty company's 450-employee presence in two Carroll facilities would not have been possible without Brinker's vision and loyalty to his home county.

"We wouldn't have this building here," Quandt said. "We wouldn't have the pretty huge payroll that feeds a lot of mouths."

When Brinker took over as CEO of American Home Shield in 1986 the company had 144,000 customers. Today, American Home Shield, a subsidiary of Memphis, Tenn.-based ServiceMaster, has 1.4 million customers, Quandt said.

Quandt attended Brinker's funeral Mass in California.

"When somebody asked him where he was from he always said, 'Carroll, Iowa,'" said Quandt who has worked for American Home Shield for 25 years.

Brinker worked closely with the former Development Corporation of Carroll, a precursor to the Carroll Area Development Corporation, on bringing American Home Shield to Carroll.

"He was the kind of guy you'd like the minute he said 'hello,'" said Dr. Richard Collison of Carroll, who served as president of the Development Corp.

Collison, who credited Commercial Savings Bank executive Pat Moehn and other Carroll leaders for work with American Home Shield, said Brinker scouted Carroll and made the call to locate the American Home Shield facility here quickly.

"He was a very decisive guy," Collison said. "We were elated and happy to have him."

Quandt said the company originally operated out of a facility on U.S. Highway 71 North before moving to its current 43,000-square-foot facility in 1990. The company later added a 17,000-square-foot auxiliary building in Carroll.

"Lynn was the visionary to build the 43,000-square-foot building that is east of Carroll," Quandt said.

That's remarkable, because the call center started in Carroll in 1988 with just 44 employees, Quandt said. Brinker could see the growth potential as the company at one point employed 600 people in Carroll, Quandt added.

American Home Shield is the leader in its industry, having founded the home warranty business. The company responds to more than three million requests annually. The company has presences in Carroll, Georgia and Tennessee.

Brinker made the decision to move the American Home Shield center to Carroll at a crucial time in the city's history, right in the middle of the farm crisis of the 1980s, Quandt said.

"You've got to remember, it was during the farm crisis when we had high unemployment around here," Quandt said.

He said Brinker valued the work ethic and intelligence of people in the Carroll area and knew they could deliver high quality service.

According to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Brinker was co-founder of the CPA firm Pisenti and Brinker that still operates today. Brinker was also co-owner of KMST-TV in Monterey, Calif., a CBS affiliate.

Brinker and his wife, Gayle (Rupiper) had homes in Lake Tahoe, and Indian Wells, Calif., near Palm Springs, as well as in Kona, Hawaii and Monterey.

"He was humble from his Midwest roots, but he was very intelligent, a very kind person," his son Doug Brinker told the Santa Rose Press-Democrat. "He touched a lot of people's lives. He was very generous."

Survivors include wife Gayle Brinker of Santa Rosa, whom he married in 1955; sons Doug Brinker and Dan Brinker of Santa Rosa; daughters Shelly Nishimi of Orange County, Tammy Dyer of Santa Rosa, and Karen Rubattino of Santa Rosa; brothers Luverne Brinker of Carroll, and Darryl Brinker of Minneapolis, Minn.; sisters Lois Sibenaller of Earling, Jerrine Brinker and Mary Jo Brinker, both of Florida; 21 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are suggested to the Alzheimer's Association, 1211 N. Dutton Ave, Suite A, Santa Rosa, 95401.