Rolfe High School Alumni Web Site: Graphic by Wendy Bennett

What's New 2008
A chronological listing of postings to this 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

Melba Jones and Sunny Brook Cafe staff c1988

December 31, 2008

December 29, 2008

  • We added an obituary for Gertie Boeckholt, who operated the Sunnybrook Cafe for a time.

December 22, 2008

December 12, 2008

  • We have learned of the death of Dorthy Lou Pedersen and have posted an obituary. We will post a more complete obituary when it becomes available.

December 4, 2008

  • We posted an obituary for Franklin DeVaul (RHS 1952) who died in 2006. Franklin had written a short autobiography for this website and the link is on his obituary page.

November 25, 2008

  • We posted the latest version of the flyer for Rolfe's Hometown Christmas Celebration.

November 19, 2008

  • Beth Pearson of Rolfe has written us to announce that the Rolfe Public Library will host a Christmas tea and present a humorous skit, The Magi's Wife, at the library at 3 pm on Sunday, December 7. The Rolfe community will then have a Hometown Christmas Celebration from 4 to 7 pm at the RAMS Event Center in the school gym. The celebration will include a living nativity, kid's Santa mall, soup supper, strolling carolers, shopping offered by 30 business owners and sales associates, and hot cider served by the Omnicron sorority. The celebration is sponsored by Rolfe Betterment Incorporation with help from the RAMS Event Center Committee. For further information, contact Beth Pearson or Rob and Bobbie Taylor.

November 5, 2008

October 21, 2008

  • On the weekend of July 11, the Rolfe High School class of 1958 celebrated its 50th anniversary with several reunion activities in Rolfe. Class member, Velma (Shaw) Johnson of Emmetsburg, sent us a photo of the group and a report of the weekend, and we have posted her materials. Thanks Velma. If other classes have photos and/or reports of their reunions, please send them to us, and we would be happy to add them to the web site.

September 19, 2008

September 6, 2008

  • Deane Gunderson (RHS class of 1935) turns 90 on September 16. His family is hosting an open house reception for him from 1 to 4 pm on September 21 at the Rolfe Community Center. Deane attended a Roosevelt Township school prior his high school years in Rolfe and was one of the oldest graduates at the all-class reunion in 2005. We doubt if he has missed any all-class reunions. The Rolfe area farmer also served on the Rolfe school board and was one of the early financial contributors to this site. A few years ago, we posted some of the columns that he had written in the 1970s for the Rolfe Arrow newspaper. If you can't attend the reception but want to send Deane a greeting, you can write to him at his home.

August 19, 2008

August 18, 2008

  • We have heard that Jim Keeble of West Bend died this morning, ending a battle with cancer. He went to elementary school with the Rolfe High School class of 1960.

August 12, 2008

  • We have heard of the death of Jane Marie Traub of Ottosen. She was Jane Shimon of the Rolfe High School class of 1974. Her funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 13 at Saints Peter and Paul's Catholic Church in West Bend with burial to follow at the West Bend Cemetery. Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the church in West Bend where a vigil service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Harris Funeral Home of West Bend is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be sent to

August 11, 2008

August 10, 2008

  • Buster O'Neill, age 85 and a retired Rolfe area farmer, died on July 23. We will post his obituary soon.

July 21, 2008

  • Much of Iowa's focus in June was on the rain and flooding. Then that month flew by, and July is nearly coming to an end. Tomato and sweet corn harvest has barely begun, but soon September will slip up on gardeners, and they will be pulling vines and preparing for the dormant season. OK, so autumn isn't quite here, and hopefully, there will be plenty of picnics, boating, swimming, fairs, and other summer activity yet this summer. However, we wanted to provide a link to an essay that our editor, Helen Gunderson of the RHS class of 1963, wrote in 1995 about autumn being her favorite season. Indeed, sometime in the next couple of weeks, the unique scent of air that signals the start of school, football season, falling leaves, and corn harvest will be noticeable. Forgive us if we already provided a link to the essay in recent years, but we can't find evidence that we did, and we certainly want to share the piece with you.

July 14, 2008

July 4, 2008

June 20, 2008

June 18, 2008

At the Memorial Day luncheon at the Lutheran Church in Rolfe, Dave Spencer (RHS circa 1973) was showing folks a sheaf of photos he had bought at an auction. The one of the Rolfe Boy Scouts trip to Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada, from June 19 to 27, 1954, was so striking that we asked if we post it. Thanks Dave.

There is an irony in posting it today, considering the tornado that tore through Little Sioux Scout Ranch in western Iowa on June 11, killing four scouts and injuring 50 others. Two larger views of full photo with names:  800 pixels wide   1200 pixels wide

June 17, 2008

  • Donna Heathman, age 81 and a life-long resident of the Rolfe area, died yesterday at the Rolfe Care Center. Funeral services are at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Shared Ministry of Rolfe. Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Powers Funeral Home in Rolfe. Donna's husband Orval died in 1988. The couple had two children: Linda VanGorkum and Denny Heathman. Both graduated from Rolfe. Fort Dodge Messenger obituary

June 10, 2008

  • We have posted an obituary for Inez Markley Busby who graduated from RHS in 1956 and lived her adult life in Louisiana.

June 5, 2008

June 3, 2008

  • We have heard of the death of Frances Smith. She died yesterday at her home in Rolfe. Her husband of 63 years, Ray Smith, died in February 2007. According to Ray's obituary, the couple's survivors include: four daughters. They are Kaye (Mike) Calligan of Altus, Oklahoma; Judy (Fred) Wayne of Omaha, Nebraska; Diana (Jim) Sandvig of Rolfe; and Becky (Albert) McMullin of Bellaire, Texas. Ray and Frances have 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. When it becomes available, we will post the obituary for Frances.

May 31, 2008

  • We have posted remarks that John Morgan (RHS Class of 1966) presented at the Memorial Day Celebration on May 26 at the Clinton-Garfield Cemetery southeast of Rolfe. larger photo

May 20, 2008

DeAnn Cooper Sindergard, has notified us of the 2008 winners of the Rolfe Alumni Scholarship. They are Jennifer Stumpf, daughter of Kevin and Shelley Stumpf, and Bridget Zeman, daughter of Fred and Lisa Zeman. Each winner received $250. larger photo

Jennifer will be attending Simpson College in Indianola and majoring in biology/pre vet. Bridget will be attending South Dakota State University in Brookings and majoring in animal science/pre vet.

Rolfe graduated its last senior class in 1990 and no longer has its own school district. Nor does it have any school facilities. However, its students are enrolled in the Pocahontas Area Community School District, and the Rolfe area has representatives on the PAC school board.

The Rolfe Alumni Scholarship was started at the Rolfe all-school reunion in 2005 with donations from alumni. The scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors from the PAC high school who live in the original Rolfe school district or whose parent was a Rolfe alumna or alumnus. The recipients must have at least a 3.00 or better grade point; participate in a variety of school, community, and church activities; possess good character, and plan to attend either a two or four-year college.

DeAnn taught for several years in the Rolfe schools and was an advisor the RHS graduating class of 1990. When Rolfe and Pocahontas merged, she continued her career, but in the PAC schools. She is married to Curt Sindergard, a graduate of Rolfe High School.

DeAnn says additional donations are needed to continue the RHS Alumni Scholarship and that donations can be sent to Bill Winkleblack, a RHS graduate, at the Rolfe State Bank.

May 12, 2008

May 11, 2008

  • Monica M. Sernett, age 89, of Pocahontas, died on May 5, 2008, at the Rolfe Care Center. She had lived in the Rolfe and Pocahontas areas her entire life. Her husband Robert died in 2006 at the care center. RHS web site editor Helen Gunderson knew the couple well since they lived in the rural neighborhood where she grew up and were good friends of Helen's family. In fact, Monica was born on the same day in the same year in the same township as Helen's father Deane Gunderson (RHS class of 1935). At the time of Robert's death, Helen wrote a blog that included a reflection about Robert and Monica. Here is an excerpt:

  Bob and Monica moved from their farm to a small home in Pocahontas in 1989. In 2004, they moved to the Rolfe Care Center during the time that my mother Marion Gunderson was a resident there. I recall one of the first nights when Bob and Monica were at the center. I looked in the dining room to see if they were there. The staff pointed me to the social room across the hall where Bob and Monica were sitting by themselves at a table, and the neatest thing was that they were each having a glass of dark red wine that the staff had served them. I would say that Bob and Monica were a couple of love birds.  

April 19, 2008

  • RHS web site editor, Helen Gunderson (class of 1963), has been digging in her video archives and experimenting with her video editing software. This week's results include two clips that we have posted from Rolfe's 2005 all-class reunion. Both are from the evening program at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. One is of the crew of former cheerleaders, taking the stage and leading the audience in the "Loyalty" with accompaniment from the community band. The other is of the band playing the "Loyalty." Many thanks to all the spirited musicians for bringing such a great amount of joy to the evening. And a special thanks to Marilee Kleespies for recruiting an intergenerational group of instrumentalists and leading the band for the occasion. The video files are in Windows Media format (wmv) and are large. Hopefully, many of you have high speed Internet connections and can them. If you have suggestions, please let us know. Thanks.

April 16, 2008

  • Arlene Rickard Steele (RHS class of 1965) died on April 10, 2008, in St. Charles, Missouri. There will be a memorial service for her on April 19 in St. Charles and another service on April 26 at the Celebration Center, Friendship Haven, in Fort Dodge. Fort Dodge Messenger obituary

March 8, 2008

February 22, 2008

There is a full obituary for Russel Jordan on-line at the Roland Funeral Services web site.

February 20, 2008

Former Rolfe area farmer, Russel Jordan, age 88, died on Tuesday, February 19. He had Parkinson's Disease for twenty years and was enrolled in Hospice for the past several weeks. He died at the Heritage House in Atlantic, Iowa.

Russel and his wife Mary Jane moved to a farm that they rented southwest of Rolfe in 1951. They returned to the Jordan family farm in the Atlantic area in 1975 after raising six children who graduated from Rolfe High School. Russel also was president of the Rolfe school board.

One of Russel and Mary Jane's daughters, Jeanne (RHS class of 1969), is a film editor in the Boston area and produces PBS-style programs. She and her cinematographer husband, Steve Ascher, produced a documentary about the Jordan homeplace that had been in the family since the Civil War.

Russel and Mary Jane nearly lost the farm to the bank in the early 1990s. The film, Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern, won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1996. It was shown in theaters across the nation and around the world. It also became part of the public television series, The American Experience.
Both Russel and Mary Jane had key roles in the film; however, Russel was the most out-spoken, and being a wonderful storyteller, he became somewhat of a international celebrity. Mary Jane died in 1995 after being ill with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Russel and Mary Jane are survived by their children, Pam (Gary) Wolfe of Elk Horn, Judy (Joe) Marnin of Anita, Janet (Mike) Sharpe of Red Oak, Jeanne Jordan (Steve Ascher) of Newton, Mass., Jim (Gini) Jordan of Atlantic, and Jon (Kim) Jordan of Atlantic. They also have many grandchildren and probably some great grandchildren. We have heard that Russel's memorial service will be on Sunday, February 24. His obituary in the Atlantic News Telegram says, "Services are pending at Roland Funeral Home in Atlantic."

February 10, 2008

February 1, 2008

  • Posted a small obituary for Glen Neugent and will attempt to post a more detailed obituary later.

  • Posted an obituary for Maureen "Sam" Pedersen who taught in the Rolfe grade school in the 1950s. She probably went by Miss Huston.

January 28, 2008

  • Glen Neugent, age 80, died on January 25, 2008, at Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge. He was a resident of Rolfe, and in his early years in Rolfe had been manager of Iowa Electric. His funeral is Wednesday January 30 at 10:00 a.m. at the Lutheran Church in Rolfe. His wife Marjorie died in 1992. Their children are: Lynn Debel of North Branch, Minnesota; Michelle Lentsch of Clare, Iowa, and Steven Neugent, of Quincy, Illinois, who is back for the funeral from active duty in the military in Iraq.

January 21, 2008

"Whew!" That's what RHS web site editor, Helen Gunderson, said today when she finished posting the last of her scans, photos, and audio files from the RHS time capsules. The boxes were opened during the 2006 Greater Rolfe Days weekend at a public ceremony at the Rolfe Public Library.
Superintendent Joe Kramer and board members of the Pocahontas Area School District facilitated the event, which involved opening a box from 1917 and another left by the Class of 1928 that had several subsequent additions of material. Later that summer, with Kramer's permission, Helen spent several days at the Rolfe library, sorting through the materials and digitizing them. Then over the past several months, when she wasn't obsessed with gardening, other projects, or winter hibernating, she posted bits and pieces. Today, she completed the project.

The last item posted was a photo of a tin trophy with red ribbon from the Class of 1928 capsule. The note with the trophy says "Tennis Championship, Class Day 1928, Won by Russell Ives and Margaret Pollock." (click on photo for a larger view)

Helen says she posted the trophy last, imagining it as a metaphor for her own sense of personal triumph for completing the marathon of working with the time capsule materials. She says, "The project was fun, meaningful, and prompted a sense of nostalgia at times. But it was also tedious work, and a sense of responsibility hovered over my head for a long time. I am grateful to have the resources to do this kind of work. But I am also grateful to be finished. In the years to come, when I think back to this project I will remember that little tin trophy. Of course, there were a lot of other treasures in the time capsules that I will remember as well." 

For the record, Helen knew both Russell Ives and Margaret Pollock.

Other materials posted today include: the box from the Sony audio cassette tape that the Class of 1928 used at its 1968 reunion to record classmates' and Miss Marcum's thoughts, souvenir table decorations from the1978 reunion that included the Class of 1928 and Jayne Brinkman, president of the Class of 1978, and newspaper reports of the1978 reunion.

As it is, the time capsules and all the materials found in them are stored in the safe at Superintendent Kramer's office in Pocahontas. At least, that's the last word that Helen heard about the state of the capsules. She will copy all of her original time capsule files to DVD's and send them to Jeff Kerns, who is a 1978 graduate of Rolfe and on the board of directors of the PAC School District. Her intent is for him to take them to Kramer with the idea that the school will keep the set, make copies, and give them to the Pocahontas and Rolfe public libraries. The images on this web site are in low resolution. Persons wishing high resolution files to make quality copies should eventually be able to contact the superintendent or librarians to make arrangements for the files.

January 18, 2008

  • Dennis Pierce, former superintendent of the PAC School District and a key architect of the merger with the Rolfe schools in 1990, died today following a long ordeal with cancer. Pierce first came to Pocahontas in about 1977 or 1978 and was at the helm of the district until about five or six years ago.

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