Rolfe High School Alumni Web Site: Graphic by Wendy Bennett

What's New
A chronological listing of recent
items added to this web site.

What's New
Time Capsules
Essay Section
Rolfe Alumni Reunion 2013
Last Graduation 1990
Where Are They Now
Memorial Board
Memorabilia for Sale
Web Financial Support
Project Credits

The Rolfe alumni reunion will be on July 13 in conjunction with Rolfe's 150th anniversary.

June 23, 2014

  • CLASS OF 1954 --- 60TH CLASS REUNION (WOW!!!)
    July 12, 2014 -- Community Center in in Rolfe
    Gather to meet, greet and view memorabilia after the GREATER ROLFE DAYS parade --- join us for DINNER at 5:30 pm --- COST $10. We welcome all other alumni to join us.  Please send your reservations by July 1, 2014 to:

       Cheryl Jenalea Hilton
       1301 Lawler Street
       Emmetsburg, IA 50536

    Class of 1954 - 50th Class Reuion

    Class of 1954 at 2013 All School Reunion

February 10, 2014

  • We have added two new YouTube videos that Helen Gunderson posted this week. One is of the 2013 Greater Rolfe Days youth water fights and parade. The other is of the all-class reunion gatherings at the community center and golf club. Enjoy.

July 18, 2013

  • Helen Gunderson has been making additions, corrections, and other updates to the piece she wrote last week about anticipating reunions.

July 10, 2013— Editor's corner by Helen Gunderson

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 long-winded pieces.
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. Complete reflections: html file

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 great grandchildren.

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). obituary


May 15, 2013

  • We have posted a new YouTube video. It is of the 2006 Greater Rolfe Days Parade by Helen Gunderson (RHS 1963).

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.

Todd's obituary

Joe's obituary

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. obituary

February 5, 2013

  • Rolfe 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 deaths. 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 Web site 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 Community School Facebook group 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 photos. Thanks.

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. obituary

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. obituary

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. obituary 

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) favorite rolls.

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. obituary


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. obituary

Joe and Kaitlin Reigelsberger in the Pioneer seed warehouse
at the 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 road.

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). obituary

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). obituary

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." obituary
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). obituary

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). obituary

Pat is third from left. It was a 1950s tradition that the sophomore
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 know. Thanks.

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