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Senator Oliver Wagner "Ollie" Speraw

1921 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Senator Oliver Wagner "Ollie" Speraw Obituary
Speraw, Senator Oliver Wagner (Ollie) 03/26/1921 ~ 02/21/2014 OCEANSIDE -- Oliver Speraw passed away at Pacifica House, a wonderful hospice home in Carlsbad run by Hospice of North Coast, with his wife, Anne Speraw, his son, Michael Speraw, and his daughter -in-law, Molly De Shong by his side. He was almost 93. Listing Ollie's many achievements and contributions could fill this entire newspaper. Ollie was a leader/ mentor, a successful entrepreneur, a servant of his community, family and friends and a proud veteran of WWII. Ollie was born in Minneapolis but grew up in Long Beach and graduated from Wilson High School. He married his high school sweetheart, Marguerite Halicus, and they had four children, Daniel, Roger, Peggy and Michael. He then studied drafting and attended a trade school to learn carpentry. He served in the Air Force during WWII in Burma and China. After the war, he joined the Junior Chamber (Jaycees) in Long Beach, Toast- masters and took Dale Carnegie courses. These were all powerful influences on his life and later success. Ollie's dream was to become a home builder in Long Beach. He tried for nine years but couldn't make a go of it so he turned to the next best thing, selling homes, and became a real estate agent. A quick learner and avid student, he became a broker and started his own very successful real estate firm, Sparow Realty (A Nest for Every Bird) in the early 60's. In 1971, Ollie became the first person to buy a master franchise, Southwest LA region, from then start-up company Century 21 Real Estate. Along with building his region, he was Century 21's Senior VP of Marketing and helped roll it out across the country by developing the Century 21 Sales Management Training Academy. Century 21 now has over 100,000 agents working out of 7,100 offices in 74 countries. His public service career started when he was appointed to the Long Beach Water Commission in 1954. In 1956, he ran for Long Beach City Council but lost. By 1978, after selling his Century 21 region back to Century 21, he was ready for a new challenge. He had been the Chairman of the 31st Senate District Republican Central Committee in Long Beach and decided to run for the California State Senate seat vacated by Governor George Deukmejian after he was elected Governor. Ollie won that election and served one and a-half terms in the State Senate. Governor Deukmejian later said of Ollie: "Serving our community in the State Senate is but a small part of Ollie's tremendous record of commitment to our State and to our Country. He served America in the war, he built a highly successful business, he's been a teacher and he's been involved in countless community services and activities. He will be missed." After the Senate, in 1984, he embarked on a new start-up company, Dial One, with some of the guys that had built Century 21. It was a franchise concept for the trades and services that proved to be difficult. Then he moved to Oceanside to help the founders of Century 21 Mission and it is there he met Anne Portante, who became his wife. Of Oceanside Ollie said: "I loved Long Beach but it has been replaced in my heart by Oceanside." He retired at age 86 but never stopped working for the many organizations and causes he supported, including the Oceanside Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Civitan, and many others. Education was an issue he was passionately interested in and he was talking about Salman Khan's Khan Academy, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst and the movie "Waiting for Superman" just days before he passed away. On top of his success in business and politics, Ollie's greatest measure of success were the many people he helped and guided throughout his life. One example, in the mid-60's, Ollie became a Big Brother to David Farthing and in turn to David's sister, Lisa and brother, Tim. The three children had been left fatherless by a plane crash. Ollie treated them like his own children and helped them make their way in life. Dave became a radiologist and devoted son. The many other instances could fill the pages of this paper. Those that know Ollie will remember him most for his uncanny wit, humor and his ability to remember and tell jokes, which he had to the very end. Ollie is survived by his wife, Anne Speraw; his sons by his first wife, Marguerite: Daniel, Roger and Michael; and grandchildren, Andrew, Kristy, Paul, Garrett, Jessica, Dylan and Tyler; and by many family and friends that loved him. A Celebration of Ollie's Life will be held between 2 and 5 p.m., on Tuesday, March 4th, at El Camino Country Club, Oceanside, CA. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Hospice of the North Coast: www., and Women's Resource Center:
Published in U-T San Diego on Feb. 28, 2014
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