Rolfe High School Alumni Web Site: Graphic by Wendy Bennett

What's New 2010
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

The class of 1960 held 50th anniversary reunion.

December 29, 2010

  • We have heard that Doris McKim Henderson, a graduate of Plover High School and a resident of the Rolfe community from 1954 to 1996, died last night. Her husband Lawrence died in 2005. Doris and Lawrence were the parents of Allen Henderson (RHS 1970) and Connie Henderson Boyd (1974).

December 28, 2010

  • We have heard that Jim Hulgan of the RHS class of 1970 died on November 7. He had resided in Perry.
December 12, 2010  
Esther H. Wilson, age 83, of Rolfe, died on December 9 at the Rolfe Care Center where she had resided for several years after moving back to the Rolfe area from Arizona. Memorial services will be held at a later date. Powers Funeral Home of Rolfe is in charge of arrangements. For online condolences, visit

Esther originally came to Rolfe as a young music teacher in the 1940s. She immediately met the eye of and was soon married to Rolfe school board member, businessman and insurance agent, Jim Wilson. He was a 1928 graduate of Rolfe. Esther and Jim lived on a farm southeast of Rolfe and were active leaders in many aspects of community life as well as Republican politics. They also raised Jim's two children from his first marriage: Janis Sue Cerasani of the RHS class of 1958 and Jim Wilson, who many classmates remember as Jimmy, from the class of 1961. The elder Jim died in 1998 in Sun City, Arizona. Esther's obituary

George Louis Lanus, age 67, died on November 19, 2010, at the Rolfe Care Center. He was born in 1943, at Rolfe to Roy and Edna (Beuchle) Lanus. George grew up on the family farm and graduated from Rolfe High School in 1961. After completing his education, he served in the U.S. Air Force for four years.
Following his discharge from the service, he engaged in farming for several years. George drove semi-trucks, worked with cable television and did a lot of carpentry work before he was forced to retire due to failing health. He enjoyed woodworking, fishing and camping in his spare time. George's biography

Blanche Gardewine died on January 23 in Pocahontas. She was born in 1915 at Rolfe to John and Mabel (Bendixson) Witt. Blanche attended local country schools for the early grades and then graduated from Rolfe High School in 1932. She taught country school upon graduation from high school.

Blanche married Roger Gardewine in1936, at Pocahontas. The couple lived in the state of Illinois for a few years, and then moved back to Iowa to live and farm. Roger died on January 13, 1995, and Blanche remained on the farm until a few years ago, when she entered the Pocahontas Manor.

Blanche and Roger had one child, Ronald, who graduated from Rolfe in 1955.We heard late today that Ronald died this weekend. Blanche's biography

December 10, 2010  
Juanita "Jackie" Loraine Snook Widstrup passed away peacefully in her sleep on November 3rd, 2010. She was born on December 24th, 1937, in Rolfe and graduated from the Rolfe schools in 1955. With her husband in the Navy, she lived in Boston, San Diego, and Charleston before settling down in Decatur, Alabama. obituary

December 9, 2010

  • We apologize for the lapse in posting materials. Our editor is having some remodeling done at her home, and her workhorse computer with Web site software has been disconnected for several weeks. Now she has it set up in a temporary office that she calls her bunker in the basement. If you have obituaries or other material that you think should be posted, please send them to us. Thanks.
  • Sara Beckord Swails, who organized a reunion this summer for the women from the RHS class of 1968, has sent us material about one of her classmates, LaNell Ramsvig Sado. LaNell died on October 1, 2008. The women at the reunion had a memorial ritual in her honor and left a candle burning for her throughout the weekend.
  • DeNita Diane Denton has informed us that her mother, Juanita Snook Widstrup, who was a member of the RHS class of 1955, has died. We will post Juanita's obituary within a few days. She was one of 13 siblings and is survived by four of them.

October 25, 2010

There was thunder, lightening, and rain as well as a full moon in the Rolfe area on Saturday night. Prior to the storm, there had been weeks of dry weather that followed a growing season with near-record rainfall. The result of the wet conditions was that, for many farmers, the yields were smaller than normal.

Betsy Dahl, sister Heidi, and
niece Sophia harvest corn

On the other hand, the benefit of the dry spell was that farmers incurred little cost for drying their corn since it came out of the fields extra dry. And due to the law of supply and demand, the prices for corn and beans at the Pro Coop currently are relatively high.
The unfortunate aspect of the market is that many farmers pre-sell a third or more of their grain months ahead of harvest, thinking that prices will fall with the abundance of grain at harvest time. And in most years, that has been a wise strategy. But having to fulfill a contract set in June at $3.30 per bushel of corn is a bit of a bummer when the harvest day price is up to $5.03 per bushel and a few days later is $5.11. Usually, when the media reports that grain prices are sky high, the public thinks farmers are making it rich. But seldom are farmers able to take advantage of the top prices.

But putting aside concerns about profit and losses, last week was beautiful, not only for those people harvesting and hauling the grain, but for spectators hanging out in a field and those wanting to photograph the harvest.

October 24, 2010

  • We apologize that the "where they are now" section is not functioning properly. Yes, you can search for information about classmates, but right now, if you enter new information, it disappears. We are working to chase down the gremlins. If you feel so inclined, you could donate funds so we could hire help to revamp and modernize some of our sections, especially the "where they are now" and "memorial board" tables.

October 8, 2010

Blanche DeWolf, age 98, of Pocahontas, died on October 6 at the Pocahontas Manor. She and her late husband, Wesley, farmed south of Rolfe where they raised three children and lived for almost 50 years. Their son, Jack, was in the RHS class of 1956. Their daughters, Nancy and Linda, were in the RHS classes of 1962 and 1967. obituary

October 5, 2010

  • We realized this morning that there was no clear access to some bulletin board material that we posted in the early years of this Web site. So we have made an index to those pages. If any of you missed reading them when originally posted or want to reread them, have at it. In our humble opinion, some of the thoughts are worth reading more than once.
September 29, 2010  
Karen M. Baade Pedersen, age 63, died on September 23 at her home in Scotts Valley, California. She grew up in the extended Rolfe area but graduated from Havelock-Plover High School in 1965. Some of her younger siblings graduated from Rolfe in the 1970s. Karen was married to David Pedersen of the RHS class of 1963. obituary
Goldie Marie Luft, 98, of Emporia, Kansas, formerly of Humboldt and Rolfe died on September 6, 2010 at Newman Regional Health in Emporia. She graduated from RHS in 1930. obituary

September 28, 2010

On June 11-13, 2010 the girls from the class of 1968 gathered for their “1968 RHS Girls Weekend Reunion” in Iowa City at the home of Sara Beckord Swails.

Click for larger view.

Attending the weekend celebration were Alice Rickard Gough, Brenda DeWall Dodge, Debbie Erickson Poppen, Kathleen Rickard Gentes, Linda Boeckholt Tiernan, Sandy Spencer Behrendsen, Sara Beckord Swails, and Susan Wilson Whitaker. Barb Trimble Post, Marcia Hansen Marchant, Ronda Accurso Mattey, and Sue Bintz Pederson were unable to come. more

September 3, 2010

On Friday, July 9, 2010, classmates from the Rolfe High School class of 1960 gathered at the Primetime restaurant in Algona for their 50th anniversary reunion.

Click for larger view.

Those in attendance included: Tom Bennett, Pat Calligan, Joyce (Johnson) Carlson, Patti (Spiker) Collett, Marvin Dornath, Ken Graaf, Raymond Heald, Clara (Gunderson) Hoover, Bill Johnson, Gary Larson, Judy (Wagner) Larson, Delbert Lowe, Mary (Cox) Lowe, Marlys (Bartosh) Malecek, Karen (Peters) Orwig, Rachel (Heald) Perry, Janet (Pederson) Rabbit, Sharon (Wickre) Rickard, Nancy (Bennett) Wiuff, Gary Wolfe, Pam (Jordan) Wolfe, Bob Nielsen (teacher) and Charlene Fox (teacher). On Saturday, many of the attendees were joined by three other classmates: Larry Stegge, Sandy (Monteith) Hovey, and Karen (Kirchner) Herr, and participated in Greater Rolfe Days activities. Click here to go to class of 1960 elementary school photo and video.
September 7, 2010  
Reading a notice of a sale of land owned by the Mary Jane Dow trust led us to suspect that Mary Jane, a 1936 graduate of Rolfe High School, had died. So we did a little research and learned that she had passed away on November 23, 2009. We have posted her obituary from the Salt Lake City Tribune with slight modifications to tell about her Rolfe connections.

August 14, 2010

  • Occasionally something comes across our desk that we think worth sharing whether it is a documentary film about a social justice issue, a recipe, or news of a Rolfe graduate. In this case, it is story from yesteryear about two well-known men in the Rolfe area. The story comes from Mary Le Nelson Clark (RHS 1954) and is about Deane Gunderson (1935), who died this summer, and her father, LeRoy Nelson (1927), who died in 2003. Enjoy.

from Mary Le Nelson Clark

I've always loved the story about Deane and my father, LeRoy Nelson, meeting in front of the Rolfe State Bank. Deane had a belt on that was up to the very last hole. Dad looked at it and said, "Deane, your belt is too short." Deane looked at Dad's belt which had a long flap and said, "LeRoy, your belt is too long." Right there on Main Street, in front of the bank, they each pulled off their belts and made the exchange.


August 5, 2010

  • We have posted a YouTube slide show about Anita Beckord that her family created for her memorial service.
August 4, 2010  
Anita Mae Miller Beckord of Longmont, Colorado, passed away August 3, 2010 at her Hover Village home. She was 91. Anita was born April,16 1919 in Havelock, Iowa, to George and Sarah Buck Miller. She grew up in nearby Rolfe, Iowa, where she graduated from high school in 1936.  more

August 3, 2010

  • Several days ago, Sara Beckord wrote to say that her mother, Anita Miller Beckord (RHS 1936), had been admitted to Hospice in Colorado. This afternoon, Bruce Beckord wrote to say Anita "passed away very peacefully this morning at about 10:00. Services will be on Saturday at Westview Presbyterian church in Longmont." Anita and her husband, George, owned and operated Beckord's Hatchery in Rolfe. In 1979, they retired to Estes Park, Colorado. Later they lived in Longmont where George died in 1996. Anita and George have four surviving children: Sydney (1958), Bruce (1961), Sara (1968), and John (1964). Their son Don (1962) died in 1997 from complications of diabetes.
August 3, 2010  
Martin DeWall (RHS 1941) died on July 31 at the Pocahontas Community Hospital. Martin and Lenora DeWall farmed in the Pocahontas County area until retiring in Pocahontas in 1988. Their children include Brenda (1968), Dennis (1970), Sharon (1975), and Garry (1977).
Emondeane Ricklefs, age 85, died on May 25 at the Rolfe Care Center. Emondeane and her husband, Bernard Ricklefs, who attended Rolfe High School, farmed south of Rolfe and raised three children: Tim (1963), Bennet (1966), and Susan (1967). Bernard died in 2003.

July 14, 2010
Some Rolfe folk have been working on a grant with the idea of improving the looks of the town. They recently sent out a news release about an upcoming public meeting to unveil their vision and a flyer that gives a glimpse of their vision.

Rolfe, IA (July 12, 2010) – On Thursday, July 22, starting at 4:00 pm, residents of Rolfe will have the opportunity to view the final conceptual landscape plan for the community during a public showing at the Farmers Market. A formal presentation of the proposed designs will be held at 5:30 in the Community Center.

Landscape architect, Jen DeWall, Andrew Kraemer, student intern from Iowa State University, Trees Forever field coordinator, Barb Grabner-Kerns, and members of the Rolfe visioning committee will be available to explain the plan and answer any questions.

Some of the areas that have been addressed in these plans include new trail development, main street beautification, and interpretive and wayfinding signage.

Residents who want more information or who are interested in participating in the visioning process should contact Gloria Gunderson, committee chair or Barb Grabner-Kerns, Trees Forever Field Coordinator, at 515-576-3436.

The next steps of the visioning committee include presentation of cost estimates, and planning for implementation of projects from the conceptual design plan. This is scheduled for Tuesday, August 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Center. Everyone is always welcome.

The Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation in partnership with Iowa State University Extension Landscape Architecture and Trees Forever.

July 9, 2010

  • We have corrected and added to the memorial page for Deane Gunderson. One of the items is a set of memories from Wayne and Anita Beal of Ames who knew Deane when he was on the Iowa Association of School Boards.

July 5, 2010

  • Glenn Markley of the class of 1955 informed us that Darlene Burns, age 96 of Rolfe, died this morning. There will be a viewing at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 8, and a funeral service will follow at Powers Funeral Home.
  • We have posted the official obituary for Deane Gunderson who died on July 1 and some home movies and video clips that were created for his 90th birthday celebration in 2008.
July 1, 2010  
Deane Gunderson, a 1935 graduate of RHS and a retired Rolfe farmer, died peacefully at the Israel Family Hospice House in Ames on July 1, 2010. It was an idyllic day with sunshine, blue skies,
and billowy, white clouds with temperatures in the 80s. After a month of many inches of rain, the day's weather was perfect for growing corn and soybeans–the two crops grown on Deane's land. more

June 25, 2010

The RHS class of 1960 will celebrate its 50th anniversary at a reunion in Algona on July 9 with some classmates attending Greater Rolfe Days events the next day. Web site editor, Helen Gunderson (RHS 1963), created a short YouTube tribute to the class.
The video uses movies shot by Superintendent Ralph Mortensen in the 1950s, photos that Helen's sister, Clara Gunderson Hoover, had collected of members of the class of 1960, and music by Emily Anderson. Coincidentally, Clara celebrates her birthday on July 9. Best wishes to the class, and happy birthday to Clara. (Click on photo for a larger view.)



May 16, 2010

  • Today's edition of the Des Moines Register carried an update on the status of Heather DeJoode.

May 13, 2010

  • Mary Lyon, who was a Rolfe elementary school teacher from 1965-1976, died on May 4 at the age of 98 in Spencer. obituary
  • Our condolences to Mark Eccles (RHS 1969) of Cedar Rapids and his family. Mark's daughter, Heather DeJoode of Ankeny, was recently involved in a truck-car accident that killed her five-year old son Carson and five-month-old daughter Claire. Heather and her son Chase survived. Carson and Claire are the great-grandchildren of Guy (RHS 1940) and Mary Ellen Eccles of Rolfe.  WHO newstory
May 10, 2010
May 4, 2010
  • The Rolfe Public Library is nearing completion of a project to digitize 110 oral history interviews conducted in 1980 and 1981 of a variety of Rolfe people. The interviews were recorded on audio cassette tapes but will be available on CDs at the library. Interested persons can also arrange to obtain CDs for their own collections.

    Recently, the library embarked on a project to digitize 33 rolls of microfilm of the Rolfe Arrow and related newspapers, such as the Rolfe Reveille, with publication dates ranging from 1888 to 1989. The goal is to post the digital version of the newspapers on-line by February 2011 where visitors will be able to use the Web site’s search tool to find key words. more
April 9, 2010 — Editor's corner by Helen Gunderson
Life here in Ames is full with gardening and plenty of napping to deal with fuzziness in my system that is probably a reaction to stuff in the springtime air. However, I did get time to shorten the video that I produced in 1997 about the road I where I grew up. The show is now 10 minutes long and short enough to post on YouTube. Some of you may have already seen it in a 13-minute WMV file. Hopefully, by being on YouTube, it will get more visibility. I will embed the program here, add some thoughts about Miss Marcum, then plant onion seedlings that I started a few weeks ago. They need to get in the ground before they perish in the containers, which are the bottoms of gallon milk jugs. more
April 8, 2010  
Mary Elizabeth (McEwen) Nelson, age 99, died on April 3 at the Rolfe Care Center where she had been a resident for several years. Mary was born in Plover, then moved to Rolfe at the age of two and graduated from Rolfe High School  in 1928. She and her husband, LeRoy, farmed east of Rolfe on Meadow-Run Farm. He was in the RHS class of 1927 and died in 2003. obituary
March 14, 2010 — Editor's corner by Helen Gunderson
Although I have recorded several interviews that are posted on this site and elsewhere, I had never recorded one over the phone. That changed this week. I have been figuring out the necessary, but rudimentary hardware, and did my first experiment on Wednesday night. And Jerry Farlow of the class of 1955 was a willing subject for the experiment. His mother Dorothy Farlow had a beauty parlor in their home across the street, south of the entrance to the main part of the Rolfe school, and that is part of the context of the interview. Jerry is currently a professor of mathematics at the University of Maine. His wife Susan is a travel writer, and they travel extensively. Also, Jerry has written several pieces for this Web site. I'll write more later, but for now, I will simply add this link to the MP3 file of the 34-minute edited version of the conversation. I will be interested in how the audio quality, including the volume levels, work. I would also like to know if you would prefer one long file or having an interview divided into shorter segments. So, if you wish, please send me your feedback. Thanks.

March 9, 2010 — Editor's corner by Helen Gunderson

It's been over 10 years since the Rolfe Alumni Web site was first published. We have strived to recruit people to write essays, and toward that end, we have received pieces from about 60 people. The recruiting process was not an easy one, and most of what we have was submitted nearly a decade ago. Also, there were those people, including former faculty, who said they would write, but have not followed through. Then there are other folks such as Jerry Farlow (1955) and me (1963) who have written several pieces. In fact, we recently posted a new essay (or call it a story) from Jerry, and he says he has yet another that he is perfecting and intends to submit this spring. more
February 13, 2010

Jerry Farlow (RHS 1955) sent an email today, saying he was one of the runners in the recently-posted home movies that Superintendent Mortensen shot in the 1950s. So we created a section for comments related to the films. Thanks Jerry. We welcome other RHS-related people to join in the fun of sending us info and memories to post.
February 11, 2010

Finally, we have overcome technical gremlins and have posted some home movies of Rolfe school activities on YouTube.
They were shot by the late Ralph O. Mortensen when he was superintendent of the Rolfe Community School District in the mid-1950s. Click here to go to a full page of the clips.

February 7, 2010

  • Today something happened that is just the kind of thing that makes it exciting to publish this Web site. Jerry Farlow (RHS class of 1955) emailed us another reflection of his days growing up in Rolfe to add to our essay section. It's his fourth piece, and this one is about delivering newspapers and a scheme he had to win a new Schwinn bicycle. It's been awhile since we have posted new essays (or much else for that matter), and we're thankful to Jerry and hopeful that others of you will send us some of your thoughts and/or stories.

February 7, 2010  
Raymond W. DeWall, who graduated from Rolfe in 1949 and farmed between Rolfe and Pocahontas, died at the age of 79 on Friday  at the Pocahontas Manor. Funeral services will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, February 13, at the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Pocahontas with Rev. Jack Kahle and Rev. Robert Dodge officiating. Burial will be in Summit Hill Cemetery in Pocahontas. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, February 12, at the Powers Funeral Home in Pocahontas. For online condolences and obituaries, visit

February 6, 2010

  • Well, we have been there, done something like this before. But we will try again to have a RHS alumni message board. This time will we have set up a Yahoo group for Rolfe alumni. If interested, go to the site. If you are already a Yahoo user, the process should be simple enough, and you will know generally what to expect. If you are not familiar with Yahoo, the process may seem challenging, but if so, contact editor Helen Gunderson for help. As usual with the RHS Web site, we expect civility from those using our Yahoo message board.

February 5, 2010

  • Jann Brinkman Ricklefs (RHS class of 1972) wrote us this week to say that she and other alumni are forming a reunion committee. Customarily, the all-class reunion has been held every five years (i.e. 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005.) However, in its first decision, the planning group has decided to hold the next all-class event, not in 2010, but in 2013, when the town of Rolfe will celebrate its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary. committee list

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