Roger Achterhof ’62

Roger Dale Achterhof, 80, Rochester, MN, formerly of Sioux Center, died peacefully at his home Monday, April 26, 2021, enveloped in the love of family and caregivers from Visiting Angels and Mayo Clinic Hospice.

Tipping the scales at 12.5 pounds, he was born at home, July 18, 1940, in Sioux Center, IA, to L.W. (Lawrence) and Jeanetta (Jean) Achterhof. At birth he inherited his father’s indomitable work ethic and business acumen and his mother’s loving kindness and caring, gentle nature.

Roger entered the business world when he began delivering the Sioux City Journal in his hometown at age eight. Two years later, he heard about a commercial popcorn machine lying dormant in the basement of a local store. After youthful negotiating he purchased the machine for $10 from his newspaper delivery profits. He rigged-up a portable popcorn stand and hired his brother and his friends as vendors. Roger’s popcorn stand and enticing aroma of freshly popped corn became a fixture at the town’s Saturday shopping nights, outdoor summer band concerts in the park and county fair.

With the proceeds from his popcorn stand, which continued through high school, 15-year-old Roger and his 12-year-old brother, Doug, had an A&W drive-in restaurant built on the highway through town. He also secured a loan, co-signed by his father, through a local bank. The drive-in, open from spring through fall, was sold in 1961 and paid for the boys’ college educations.

Life wasn’t all work and no play. Before he graduated from Sioux Center High School in 1958, Roger had attained the Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow Honors in the Boy Scouts. He also served as a Boy Scout camp counselor at Okoboji, IA, for two years, was a lifeguard and swimming instructor at Sandy Hollow, the town’s swimming spot. In high school, he served in student government and played varsity basketball. He was a multi-tasker before it became a catch-phrase.

He graduated from Hope College in Holland, MI, June 4, 1962. On that same day, he married Carole Risselada, who was a sophomore at Hope. His lifetime laugh line was, “I received my bachelor’s degree in the morning and lost it at night.” While in college Roger was active in class presidencies, Phi Kappa Alpha and his double majors in chemistry and biology. The couple moved to the University of Iowa, where Roger did graduate studies in chemistry for two years, after which he was recruited by Lederle Laboratories as a pharmaceutical representative in Duluth, MN. While there from 1964-1968 Roger savored life: the births of two daughters, his work as a Boy Scout leader and recipient of the Silver Scout Award, and his pursuits of hunting, fishing and golf.

In 1968, Roger became part-owner and manager of Luverne Dehydrated Products, an ag-business which converted alfalfa into pellets for livestock feed in Luverne, MN. After a short time, the couple had two more daughters and bought a farm with a 100-year-old farmhouse, living there from 1974-1987. Roger earned his private pilot license and co-owned a Cessna. He became active in Green Earth Players, a community theater group, and served as president and board member of the Southwest MN Arts and Humanities Council. His favorite pastimes were farming, flying, golfing and hunting deer in Wyoming with his brother and father.

While the couple lived in Luverne, their second daughter, Linda, endured many neurosurgeries. They lost their fourth daughter, Kate, 7, to cancer in 1980, and their third daughter, Marta, sustained a traumatic brain injury in a one-car accident in 1987. After coming out of a two-year coma, she came home to live. Throughout all of these crises, Roger was a rock. He sold Luverne Dehy in 1984, and started FGL Commodities Brokerage in Luverne. The business thrived and was sold in 2002 when Roger retired. Roger, Carole and Marta moved permanently to their summer home on Little Spirit Lake, Jackson County, MN, in 1994. Roger’s outside interests then were focused on fishing, golfing and traveling. Until Covid-19 hit in early 2020, the couple traveled extensively to North America, Central America, Europe, the Caribbean and a side trip to Africa. They golfed whenever possible and relished every adventure they shared together.

In 2015 the threesome moved to Rochester, primarily in hopes of living closer to Mayo Clinic, which Roger frequented often, and also finding a new permanent home for Marta, which was happily realized.

Roger is preceded in death by his daughter, Kate; his parents; and his sister, DeeDee Kock.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Carole; three daughters, Kristin Achterhof (Glenn Ronaldson), Hinsdale, Ill, Linda Davis (Jim), Rochester, Marta Achterhof, Rochester; his grandchildren, Sidney Davis, Boston, MA, Rutger and Landon Ronaldson, Hinsdale, IL; brother, Douglas Achterhof (Karen), Sheridan, WY; and sister, Beverly Rohl, Rapid City, SD.

All who knew Roger will miss him dearly.

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