Monday, August 06, 2012

a picnic life

The primary purpose for this trip north was to assist in inducting my mother’s cousin into the Powers Hall of Fame.

My role was to read his biography and to add some of my own comments. Because this was a special moment for my mother and for her cousin’s son, David, I decided to share a few of my comments with you.


Kenneth R. Rolfe, who we knew as the quintessential Powers resident, actually began life as a Canadian. Born on August 30, 1917 in Bow Island, Alberta. The youngest of four brothers (Durwood, Harry, and Lawrence) born to Allan and Eleanor (Nell) Rolfe.
The family moved to Powers in 1924, where Ken and his brothers attended school. He graduated from high school in 1935 playing on both the high school basketball and baseball teams.

Ken then attended the University of Oregon. He worked his way through college in the student dining hall for 10 cents a day.
When he returned to Powers, he married Rachel Bones in 1941. They were to have two sons: David and Harry Allan.

They began their life together by operating the Powers Market – the place most residents got to know him.

But fate was not kind. As it did for many young men his age, the Second World War intruded. Ken served with an artillery division in the Army in the Aleutians.

When he returned home from the war, he returned to where he left off with the Powers Market, providing his neighbors with their daily bread in a newly-prosperous economy.

But he offered more than business acumen to the community. Ken had a long list of civil contributions:
  • Mayor from 1955 through 1956
  • Past Master of Shiners’ Bingham Lodge #168
  • Charter member, Powers Lions Club
  • Charter member, Powers Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Powers Alumni Association
  • Member, Valley Camp #9330, Royal Neighbors of America· 
  • Member, Veterans of World War Two
Throughout his life, Ken was a booster for the City of Powers and for the Powers schools. A role he continued until his death in 1971.

But that is not Ken’s biography.  It is merely a list of dates and activities.  What you would expect in an obituary.

It is not who Ken was.

But the list echoes his life principles.  The same principles that made Powers a great place to grow up in.  In Ken's life you hear the essence of 20th century America.

Where else could an immigrant boy come to a young lad and make a name for himself?  In Ken’s case, as a high school All Star in baseball?

But nothing comes easily.

He headed to college at the height of the depression – putting himself through school at a menial job earning pennies.

And just as he started his married life and a new business, World War Two intervened.  Putting his life and the life of a nation on hold.

If that was not bad enough, while he was in Alaska in the Army, a fire destroyed the grocery store.

With each setback, he responded with the style of a leader.  Doing what needed to be done.

To me, he was the grocer who always ensured a 6-year old boy got the best pomegranate out of the rare shipment.  Who helped when I took my wagon down the block to the store to shop for my mother.  Who gave me tips on carving my derby racer for a cub scout merit badge.

I have tried to find a few words to sum up Ken’s life.  "He got up, dusted himself off, and went on” had promise.

But life never seemed to knock Ken down.  It took swipes, be he stood his ground.

“He rolled with punches” is far more accurate.  And he did it with the style we admire in true community leaders.

It is the same style Powers has.  Rolling with the punches over the years.

That is why it is fitting for Ken Rolfe to be inducted into Powers’ Hall of Fame.  They have both -- rolled with the punches.

And we are better for it.


min said...

Well done!

True Hero in my book.

Steve Cotton said...


Jerry reeves said...

Well said and Thanks for your Mom's and your efforts at the Powers Community Hall Of Fame Ceremony. There were many things that were not said about Ken and Rachel Rolfe. Many times they were asked to advanced credit at their store and they did many times. Also to the graduates were given watches for years. Thanks again Steve....Jerry Reeves Chair. Powers HOF

Steve Cotton said...

It was my pleasure.

Jerry reeves said...

Steve, would you please email this fine article. Thanks Jerry

Steve Cotton said...