July 18, 2013
July 10, 2013— Editor's corner by Helen
The time has
come. The celebrations are finally here. Rolfe
hosts its 150th
anniversary, and Rolfe High School has an all-class
reunion this weekend. And as a 1963
graduate, this will be like a
50th anniversary, reunion. Two years
ago, I resigned as editor of this site after
founding it in 1999 and hosting it for over
a decade. People, who read my posts or
irregularly-published Christmas letters,
know I like to share my thoughts, often in
I have refrained from writing for this site
since resigning, but with the major
celebrations so close at hand, I could not
resist taking pen in hand again. Well, let me restate
that. Thoughts about what to share have been
percolating in my mind for weeks. The ideas
were quite clear while I was hot and sweaty
in this Iowa weather and picking, then
pitting cherries for the first time from my two, six-year-old trees.
My hands and clothing stained with red
cherry juice. The ideas surfaced then
swirled in my head while
napping with my cats, riding my bicycle
about Ames to run errands, decluttering
cupboards, cleaning house, and sitting in
church on Sunday mornings.
But there is that old thing called
procrastination, and I found it hard to sit down
and actually write.
I also wondered if I
should write something or simply keep a low
profile. But alas, I started writing three
days ago. The piece is not done, but I will
share what I have prepared so far. I
probably will be revising it for some time
to come and adding photos, but take a look
if you wish. Warning: long and rambling. See
you this weekend in Rolfe.
June 21, 2013
Jeanie Othelia Nelson Stowell of
the Rolfe class of 1962 died on June 30 at the Paula J.
Baber Hospice Home in Fort Dodge.
She loved to swim, water ski, and spend time outside,
especially at the family cottage on Lake Okoboji East. She
was raised on Meadow Run Farm and married Donald Stowell on
February 4, 1961. She enjoyed giving to local charities and
spent as much time as possible helping others. She loved
spending time with family, especially her grandchildren and
Jeanie had a strong belief in angels, and many statues of
angels were used to decorate her beautifully well kept home.
In her free time she enjoyed attending musicals and plays,
watching shows about dancing, working on crosswords, and
spending time with friends and family. She was extremely
intelligent and an excellent conversationalist, keeping
guests entertained for hours with her stories and charm. In
1985, Jeanie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She
remained strong and full of hope, fighting the disease for
almost 30 years.
Jeanie was the daughter of Mary and LeRoy Nelson (classes of
1928 and 1927) and sister of Mac Nelson (1959) and Mary Le
Nelson Clark (1954).
May 15, 2013
Two classmates from the RHS
class of 1973 have died. Todd Kipfer died on March 10th
after being ill with cancer. Joe Shimon died
on May 12
of a heart attack.
Also, Tom Ham, who was married
to Joni Ham of Rolfe and farmed in the Rolfe area, died on
March 26 after a lingering illness. He was the son of Eldon
and Thelma Ham and graduated from Gilmore City-Bradgate High
School in 1967.
February 5, 2013
Alumni Reunion flyers were mailed on Wednesday, January 30
(2013) to all alumni for whom the reunion committee has
addresses. If you know of someone (alumni, former
classmate, friend, teacher) who wants one but did not
receive one, please contact
Clara Hoover. Also,
in order to help future reunion committees, please let Clara
know of any address changes, e-mail addresses or alumni
The reunion will be held on Saturday, July 13, 2013, in
conjunction with Rolfe's sesquicentennial celebration on
July 12-14. For further information, go to the official
Rolfe Alumni Reunion
which is separate from this site or go to the reunion
section of this site.
We added more
death announcements and obituary information to the table
below that we posted yesterday.
February 4, 2013
Because of the relatively dormant nature of
this Web site, we have not been diligent in posting death
information. Even so, there have been several deaths of
Rolfe-related people this winter. Considering the Rolfe
is more interactive than this site, it is a good place
for people to exchange death announcements and other
news. Occasionally, though, we will try to provide an
update–at least on this "what's new" page. This week, we
posted below notices for many people, but we also
realize we have missed posting some Rolfe people who
have died in recent years. We don't know how long we
will keep posting this kind of material, but we are more
comfortable investing time and energy in the project when people help by submitting information and
Edmondeanne Hodgell Ricklefs, age
85, died on May 25, 2010. She was born on a farm near Pocahontas
to tenant farmer parents who moved often. Edmondeane attended
country school, graduated from Ware High School (northwest of
Pocahontas), attended Buena Vista College, then married Bernard
Ricklefs of rural Rolfe in 1943.
The couple lived on a farm south of Rolfe, expanded the farm
operation, and raised three children: Tim Ricklefs (RHS
1963), Bennet Ricklefs (1966), and Susie Trees (RHS 1967).
Edmondeane was adept at running a farm, active in many
organizations, and a leader and teacher in the Rolfe
Presbyterian Church, which became part of the Shared
Ministry of Rolfe. She also volunteered at the Rolfe Care
Center and had many hobbies including sewing, quilting, and
gardening, golfing, bowling, dancing and enjoying her
friends and family.
Charlotte Mack Rickard, age 94,
died on December 27, 2011, in Urbana, Illinois. She was born in
Washington State and, as a child, lived with her grandparents in
Alberta, Canada. She graduated from high school in Spokane and
attended trade school for "aero-repair."
During World War II, Charlotte worked in Civil Defense at
Paine Field in Everett, repairing Army/Air Corps
airplanes–along the lines of the "Rosie the Riveter." While
there, she met and married Keith Rickard in 1944. Keith had
grown up in Rolfe. After he returned from service, the
couple moved to Rolfe in 1946 to be part of the Rickard
business on Main Street. Charlotte and Keith’s children
included: Jeannette FitzGerald (RHS 1963), Arlene Steele (RHS
1965), John Rickard (RHS 1968), Cheryl VanDeVoorde (RHS
1971), and Donna Viers (RHS 1974).
Although Charlotte had
been a homemaker for over two decades, she took the
ownership of Rickard Plumbing and Heating Supply after Keith
died in1969. She retired in 1979.
She was a member of the Rolfe Presbyterian Church (later
Rolfe Shared Ministry) and loved loved life, cooking,
gardening, embroidery, sewing, crocheting, her pups,
Lawrence Welk music and bingo. One of her pastimes was
knitting beautiful "chemo" stocking caps and newborn baby
caps for anyone who wanted or needed one. Her caps have been
given to people all over the United States.
Marjorie Davis Harrold (RHS 1945)
died on May 30, 2012, following a brief illness. She was born in
Storm Lake and in 1942 moved with her family to a farm southwest
of Rolfe. She met Faber Harrold at a dance, and in 1948, the
couple married and settled on the 220-acre Davis farm. Faber died in
1989, and Marjorie continued to live on the farm with her son
Paul Harrold (RHS 1969) for the remainder of her years.
Marjorie was a quiet, humble, fair, and frugal woman with a
gentle sense of humor and fun chuckle. She was a "chore girl"
during World War II when her brothers were not at home to help
with the family farm. She was a farming partner with both Faber
and Paul. She raised a large flock of chickens in her early
years of farming and drove a tractor, hauling grain or bales of
hay from field to the farm. Yet Marjorie was best known for her
dedication to family and excellence in domestic arts. She sewed
clothes, quilted, had a large garden, preserved produce, and was
an excellent cook. And she was inquisitive–often experimenting
with new vegetables or recipes. It is not surprising that her
daughter Paulelda Gilbert (RHS 1973) of Fort Dodge had a
distinguished career as a food specialist with Iowa State
University Extension. Most importantly, Marjorie's kitchen table
was a place where the family gathered for regular meals and
conversations where the whole family shared concerns and
participated in making decisions.
You may find further information about Marjorie and her
family in a
chapter from Helen Gunderson's book, The Road I Grew Up On.
Norine Arnold Reigelsberger, age
81, died on March 9th, 2012, after living 14 months with lung
cancer. She graduated from Plover High School, studied interior
design at Iowa State, then lived in Oregon and Kansas City
(Missouri) before working in airline reservations for Braniff in
Des Moines. When home for a visit, she met a Marine named Joe
Reigelsberger at a dance at the Ridotto Ballroom (between Plover
and Havelock). He had graduated from Sacred Heart High School in
Pocahontas. Norine and Joe married in 1953, settled in
Pocahontas, then moved to the Reigelsberger farm southwest of
Rolfe where they farmed and raised their sons Greg (RHS 1978)
and Mick (RHS 1980).
Norine was a hardworker, resourceful, funny, and
thoughtful. In a 1990s interview, she talked about growing
up during the Great Depression
I don't think that
children nowadays have nearly the imagination to
make do with nothing like we did. I mean, well, they
still play with boxes, but we did a lot of things
without all the toys they have now. It seems like
the minute a new toy comes out, the children have
it, while we hardly ever had any toys. We couldn't
afford them because we were raised in the
Depression. I had one doll, and my mother made
clothes for it. That was my big entertainment;
everything was centered around this doll. Things
just aren't that way anymore. I think maybe they're
losing something by not having to create some of
their own entertainment out of nothing.
Norine gardened, walked the beans, learned the computer long
before computers were user-friendly to do the office work for
the Reigelsberger Pioneer Seed business, and hosted the annual
customer appreciation barbecue. Yet when asked if she considered
herself to be a farmer, she replied, "Not really."
Norine had a cadre of loyal friends, especially the women she
walked with in town, and knew the latest in community news. She
was "there" with significant support for family, friends, and
others in the community; active at Saint Margaret's Catholic
Church; and a leader in many service organizations, including a
leadershp position with the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs. She was an
assistant 4H leader in the early 1960s and helped a neighbor
girl learn to kill and dress three chickens for the county fair,
even though neither Norine nor the girl had previous experience
and needed to read the 4H instruction manual while, at the same
time, trying to do
the task at hand.
Norine was an excellent seamstress and cook–known for baking
and sharing caramel and cinnamon rolls that would bring high dollar bids at
local fundraising auctions. Her rolls also earned a blue ribbon
at the state fair in 1984 and were once known as Chuck Offenberger's (the Des Moines Register's "Iowa Boy" columnist)
Norine had an artistic flair as was evidenced in her choice
of wardrobe and home furnishings. Also, she designed both the new
house that was built on the farm around 1970 and the new house with pink
door on Oak Street in Rolfe where she and Joe moved in 1992,
when Mick and Sue Reigelsberger moved from Rolfe out to the family farm.
Joe Reigelsberger, age 23 and the
grandson of Norine and Joe Reigelsberger, was
killed in a car accident north of Fort Dodge on December 21. He attended the Rolfe
elementary school, graduated from Pocahontas Area School, was at Simpson
College for a year, then returned to the Rolfe area to farm and be part of Reigelsberger Seed, which sells Pioneer products. Joe is the son
of Mick (RHS 1980) and Sue Reigelsberger, who farm and operate
the seed business southwest of
Rolfe, and the twin of Kaitlin Reigelsberger.
Joe and Kaitlin
Reigelsberger in the Pioneer seed warehouse
Reigelsberger farm, circa 1994.
You may find further information about the
Reigelsberger family in a
chapter from Helen Gunderson's book, The Road I
Grew Up On. There is also another
chapter that includes oral history comments by
Norine, Marjorie Harrold, and other residents of the
Alice McKim Witt, age 80, died
on January 7. She graduated from Plover High School
then worked in Rolfe. She was a telephone operator,
worked at the bank, helped her husband Roger (RHS
1949) farm, and operated Witt Hardware with
Roger. The couple has two sons: John Witt (RHS 1974)
and Tom Witt (RHS 1981).
Roger and Alice Witt in
front of Witt Hardware, circa 1988.
Mary Lehman Fisher (RHS 1963),
who lived in Sioux Falls, died on January 22. The report we
heard was that Mary died while riding her stationery
bicycle. Coincidentally, her father, Joe Lehman, was also 68
when he died after riding his bicycle. Joe and Mildred
Lehman owned the produce station in Rolfe. Mary was
well-known among her school peers as a kind and gracious
girl with musical talent, playing the oboe and piano. She
was the accompanist for the successful girls trio, the Polka
Dots (Phyllis Pedersen, Linda Robinson, and Rita Wax), who
performed at the Bill Riley Talent Show. Mary had two sisters, Carol Mints (RHS 1966) and Marilyn
Aaron (RHS 1969).
Mary is center front. Click on
image for larger, uncropped photo.
Mildred Lehman, age 100, died on February 1 in
Emmetsburg. She and her husband Joe retired from their
produce station in Rolfe and moved to Emmetsburg in the late
1970s. Joe died several years ago. We whole-heartedly agree
with the comments in her obituary that "She had an
innate sense of maternal compassion and love and was never
afraid to share it."
Greg Kaiser (RHS 1957), who was
a familiar face in Rolfe, news sharer, and both the inspiration and
labor behind many church and community projects, died on January 24 after
living with cancer for 10 months. He is survived by his wife Joan
of Rolfe; brothers Glenn (1953), Paul (1954), Gary
(1957), Lee (1962), and Kurt (1957); and children John
Kaiser (1985) and Suzanne Shaner (1986).
Greg is on left, watching the
1986 homecoming parade. The heirloom
car was his trademark at Rolfe events for decades.
Pat Calligan (RHS 1960) died
after a short illness on
January 15 in Wichita, Kansas. His parents Harold and Rose
Calligan were popular workers at Webb Drug Store and later
owned the Main Street business, renaming it as Calligan
Sundries. Pat was an affable athlete in high school, married his
high school sweetheart Fran Madsen, served in the Air
Force, retired, then earned his CPA degree and was an
accountant for Boeing in Kansas.
His brothers are: Mike Calligan (RHS 1962) and Dennis
Calligan (RHS 1967).
Pat is third from left. It was a 1950s tradition that the
boys served the meal at the junior-senior banquet-prom.
John Buenting (RHS 1963) died
on November 9, 2008. We remember him as a quiet student who
moved to Rolfe perhaps in the eighth grade. He graduated
from Des Moines Area Community College, served honorably in
the Air Force, and lived in Johnston, Iowa, at the time of
his death. He is buried in the Iowa Veterans Cemetery at Van
Meeter, Iowa. If anyone can provide further information such
as an obituary, please let us