latest revision April 21, 2007

The Des Moines Register has announced that RAGBRAI (the Register's annual great bicycle ride across Iowaa weeklong event) will go through Rolfe on July 23 with Humboldt as the final resting place for the day.

The Register has sent each town along the route a form for submitting information about the community for publication. The Register apparently wants to know the history of each place, eerie or unusual events, and famous and infamous people connected to the berg. And like many projects of this nature, the deadline for collecting and submitting the information is a short one compared to the length of time it could take to do an in depth, thorough, and fair job.

City council member Gloria Gunderson is in charge of filling out the form for Rolfe. It needs to be submitted by March 1, and Gloria needs your help.

What do you think should be included in a history of Rolfe? What eerie or unusual events do you remember? Who do you think of as being infamous or famous with connections to Rolfe? What else do you think the Register needs to know about Rolfe?

There is a slightly outdated description of Rolfe posted on this web site. You could read it to jostle your thoughts. You could also go to the section of essays to get ideas.

There could be a range of names submitted—and not just the typical ones of scholars and athletic stars. Here is just a quick list from sitting at the computer at the midnight hour.

  • Dan Allen (RHS 1968) of Rolfe, who invented some kind of arm wrestling machine.

  • The late Catherine Barr, a watercolorist from Connecticut who visited her grandparents in Rolfe during the summers and started the Barr Art Society in about the 1950s.

  • Sara Beckord Swails (RHS 1968), who was one person away from making the cut to be on the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team and eventually was the women's track and cross country coach at the University of Iowa..

  • The late Darlene Brinkman, a Plover High School graduate who was married to Rolfe farmer Dave Brinkman, mother of 10 children, mayor of Rolfe, art instructor, and accomplished water color painter. She died in 1993.

  • The late Al Budolfson (RHS 1938), who was a member of the 1938 RHS basketball team that was runner-up at state and a basketball star at Iowa State before becoming a banker in Ames.

  • The late Marie Budolfson (RHS 1928), who was a career-long professor of home economics at Iowa State University.

  • The late Suma and Guy Butler were a fascinating couple. The story is that Suma had been a White Russian princess who escaped through Thailand and brought a lot of her wealth with her and met Guy when he was in the military service. They settled in Rolfe where he was a dentist, bank board member, and a state senator. Guy died in 1961 and Suma in 1976.

  • The late Harold Calligan, a Rolfe sports announcer, and his wife, the late Rose Calligan, who owned Calligan's Sundries store (it had been Webb's Drug Store) with soda fountain and many other departments.

  • The late Bob Dixon, a Rolfe banker who was the driving force behind the formation of the Iowa Independent Bankers Association.

  • The Duitscher family and their Dutchland Dairy near Rolfe.

  • Jerry Farlow (RHS 1955), professor of mathematics at the University of Maine, who is the author of at least two books: Differential Equations and Linear Algebra and The Girl Who Ate Equations for Breakfast.

  • The Foremen, a barbershop quartet group of Rolfe area men. Perry Johnson, Curtis Kerns, John Nielsen, and Garland Westergard performed  together from 1964 to about 1977. They won the Central States District Competition and sang at international (U.S. and Canada) competition four times. Their highest international placing was 20th in a field of 900 entries.

  • Deane Gunderson (RHS 1935), a retired Rolfe area farmer. In the 1950s, when four-row corn planters were still the norm, he received media attention—including mention in a Time Magazine article—for engineering an eight-row, cross-checking planter. In the 1970s, he welded a large statue of Cy, the cardinal bird that is Iowa State University mascot. The statue was located at the Iowa State stadium, just south of the goal posts, for several years. Also, one year, he was named as Cy's favorite alum. In addition, Deane was treasurer of the Iowa School Board Association for many years and was influential in Republican circles.

  • The late Marion Gunderson was best known for her role as the director of the Rolfe Public Library. In the 1970s, for the bicentennial of the nation, she photographed many Rolfe residents and made albums of the photos for the library. In addition, she coordinated a community oral history project on the topic of changes in transportation. Marion also was known for her water color paintings and community work. She died in 2004.

  • The late Virgil Hancher, who was a Rolfe graduate and became a Rhodes Scholar and president of the University of Iowa.

  • Dallas Ives (RHS 1963), who worked as a programmer for NASA in Houston from the time he graduated from Iowa State in 1967 until he retired.

  • Jeanne Jordan (RHS 1969) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who worked with her husband Steve Ascher to co-produce the documentary film Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern that was nominated for an Academy Award and awarded both the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.

  • David Loxterkamp (RHS 1971) of Maine, who wrote the book A Measure of My Days: the Journal of a Country Docter and was once featured on the cover of a major magazine—perhaps it was Life Magazine.

  • Jeff Loxterkamp (RHS 1979) of Maine—an accomplished artist, who graduated from the University of Iowa.

  • Mona Majorowicz, who is an artist married to Mike Majorowicz (RHS 1983) and owns the Wild Faces Gallery located at the south end of Main Street in Rolfe.

  • The late Miss Edna M. Marcum, educator in the Rolfe schools from about 1906 to 1966. She was the high school principal and taught Latin and literature.

  • The late H.J. (Johnny) Nielsen whose band played for house and barn dances from the late 1920s through the early 1940s. Later Johnny and some of his siblings (including Donna Heathman of Rolfe at piano with Bev Westerman Fosnot of Mallard as piano backup) played with Mike's Little German Band out of West Bend..

  • The late Eldon Obrecht, who was a double bass music professor at the University of Iowa, a bassist with the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, and a composer.

  • Curt Pederson (RHS 1973) has both an MBA and PHR and is the Assistant to the Chair and Director of Student Affairs in the Department of Psychology at Wright State University in Ohio.

  • Troy Pedersen (RHS 1980), who won some kind of prestigious ballroom dance competition.

  • Louise Piper, famous for her blue-ribbon pies at the Iowa State Fair.

  • The Polka Dots, a singing trio consisting of the late Phyllis Pedersen Pederson (RHS 1964) of Des Moines, Linda Robinson Cordes (RHS 1963) of various Iowa towns, and Rita Wax Kelly (RHS 1964) of Rochester, Minnesota. The Polka Dots debuted on KRNT television and performed at the Iowa State Fair.

  • Norine Reigelsberger, a Plover High School graduate and resident of Rolfe who won the Iowa Boy Cinnamon Roll Search conducted by Des Moines Register columnist Churck Offenburger in 1984. Norine received a $100 savings bond, certificates, and a ribbon from the Register and Tone's Spices, sponsors of the search.

  • The 1935 RHS orchestra that won a superior rating in the Class C Division of the national music contest held in Madison, Wisconsin. Bill McIntire (RHS 1936) of Denver, Colorado, was the first chair, first violin, and therefore the concert master. He remembers that Miss Inez Archer was the conductor and the Rolfe orchestra played Haydn's Moment Musicale, Mozart's Allegro, and had to sight read a piece the students had never seen before. Bill reports, "Each member of the orchestra received a silver medal. I still have mine and cherish it  much. It has never been out of my possession.  I keep it in a special box—I was a junior at the time, we traveled to Madison in a special railroad car, leaving from West Bend, as I recall."

  • The 1937 RHS boys basketball team that was third at the state tournament and the 1938 RHS  team that was the state runner-up.

  • The RHS girls track and field team from the late 1960s that won a state meet.

  • The RHS girls basketball team from the early 1970s that went to the state tournament.

  • The 1978 RHS  swing choir and band that went to four Midwestern contests and won first place at all of them.

  • Merlin J. Ricklefs (RHS 1954) is the former IBM corporate director of Storage Products among several other assignments. He is now retired and more recently 3M McKnight Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, Visiting Professor at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Teaches, lectures and writes on Leadership and Effective Management at several leading universities around the world including China.

  • Stella Samson, jewelry designer.

  • Randy Shimon (RHS 1986) is a founding partner in the law firm of Shimon and Lovaas, a professional corporation located in Las Vegas. The company's web site says, "The firm primarily acts as an advocate for its clients in general civil litigation, with an emphasis in construction, surety, real estate, and other commercial litigation controversies. While our primary focus is litigation, we also engage in strategic planning with clients so they may avoid future controversies, litigation and other legal challenges. Our practice also includes counseling clients regarding construction, real estate transactions, other business transactions, and forming new businesses for clients."

  • The late Gordon Siefkin (RHS 1925) who was Rolfe's second Rhodes Scholar and became an attorney. Photo of Hancher and Siefkin.

  • Al Sroufe (RHS 1975) of Rolfe, a popular singer and guitarist who draws together other musicians to form bands.

  • In the early 1940s, Lucile Taylor was the first women in the community to drive a petroleum tank truck on rounds to Fort Dodge and back and a school bus route. In recent decades, she played the role of Mrs.Santa Claus, making community holiday tours, including appearances on Main Street and at the Rolfe Care Center. Also, children enjoyed visiting her home for Halloween where she dressed as a witch and gave out awesome treats.

  • Lee Thorson (RHS 1964) of Storm Lake, who is the conductor of the Cherokee Symphony and a member of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra.

  • The late Morris and Jane Webb, owners of Webb's Drug Store with soda fountain, comic book room, paint and wall paper department, and much more.

  • Stuart Webb (RHS 1949) of Minneapolis, who was a founder of the "collaborative law" movement.

  • Inez and Jim Wilcox. She was well-known in northwest Iowa as a Stanley salesperson. As one Rolfe woman said, "Inez could sell an Eskimo a refrigerator." Jim was a livestock buyer and owned the local stockyard. He was known also for holding weekday cribbage sessions at the stockyard office.

Frankly, the problem with making a list such as this is that there are many standards of success and what it means to live a wholesome life. Any list will show the values, bias, perceptions, and connections of the compiler. And in any list, including the one above, it is difficult to determine the correct details.

That's why we are opening this list to you—so you can add names and help us fill in the correct dates and other details.

Email your suggestions and information to Gloria Gunderson and to the RHS editor, Helen Gunderson. (Gloria and Helen are sisters-in-law.) Gloria will cull the list to submit a few key names to the Register. Helen will post a longer list on this web site. It would be helpful when you submit names to write a sentence or two about the person, and if available, send a link to a web page about the person.